It’s been a wet winter for Southeast Idaho.
In Rexburg, residents find themselves slipping, sliding and spinning on snowy and icy roads more this winter.
Snow levels from Rigby to St. Anthony are breaking records from as far back as 1940, according to data given in an interview by Alex BeSmert, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The City of Rexburg tries to keep up with the winter weather with a fleet of snow removal vehicles. Rexburg City Ordinance #1030 requires the streets to be free of parked vehicles between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m., allowing crews to work through the night to plow roads quickly following the snowfall.
“If everything hits right, we have two inches, and it stops snowing, and then we’re plowing — we can get it cleared off,” said Keith Davidson, public works director for the City of Rexburg.
But each time crews head out, it costs about $25,000. Because of the increase in snowfall this year, Davidson said he estimates this winter could cost as much as half a million this winter; it was about $300,000 last winter.
Once the crews hit the roads, they can clear the streets in as little as eight hours. Graters drive up and down streets to clear the snow and, in some cases, push the snow to the middle of the main roads where their large snow blower can come collect the mounds later.
But, when storms follow closely, one after another, it is harder for the city to plow and clear the streets before the public takes to the roads.
“If we have two inches fall and we start plowing and we get an additional four inches of snowfall, then the area we plowed can look like it wasn’t plowed,” Davidson said.
Davidson said this winter is not the worst he has seen, but “it’s not typical for what we’ve seen the past few years.”
Still, slick roads are a cause for concern for many Southeast Idaho residents. Davidson said the city does its best to sand the roads while they wait for the chance to plow, and it proactively applies a solution to the roads before a storm to combat the freezing temperature of moisture on the streets.
The best response to slick roads, though, is in the hands of the driver.
“Drive slowly,”Davidson said. “If you’re traveling fast and you’re on slick roads and you hit your breaks, you’re probably going to start sliding.”