Winter Operations – FAQs Winter Operations Home | Departments
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Please Note
With the exception of emergency requests from police dispatchers, individual requests for snow removal cannot be taken until after major operations have been completed.

What is the City's winter operations plan?
The Winter Operations Plan focuses on using a systematic approach for treating streets. The goal is to have streets treated and safe for travel within 24 hours of the end of an ordinary snowfall. Our operational plans are based on efficiently routing snow treatment equipment. This equipment is deployed using weather predictions provided by local and national weather forecasting services.

How does the City develop a winter operations plan?
The City assesses road conditions from local forecasts, weather websites and professional weather services to form an operations plan for each storm. Every snow storm is different, and the planning for each storm takes many factors into account, including snow accumulation predictions and temperatures before, during, and immediately after the end of the snowfall. These factors drive the planning process.

How will you keep the public informed about street conditions?
The Department of Public Works utilizes every means possible to improve communications to better inform the public. The City partners with the local news media and utilizes social media and website to keep citizens informed. Updates are available at:


What methods does the City use to treat ice- or snow-covered streets?
The City uses three treatment methods when addressing snow accumulation:

  • Anti-icing is a pre-treatment product used on the streets to prevent snow or ice from binding to roadways.
  • De-icing occurs by using calcium chloride and salt on streets during the storm to melt snow or ice precipitation.
  • Plowing uses snow equipment to remove higher accumulations of snow before using de-icing products. Plowing may leave rows or ridges of snow in front of driveways and is the slowest treatment process.

When do you plow the streets to make them passable?
There is a flexible standard of plowing streets when snow accumulation reaches four (4) inches and additional accumulation is expected. There are other factors to consider before we include plowing in our snow removal plan, such as temperatures before, during and right after the snowfall -- as well as the amount of additional snowfall that is expected. Plowing slows down our operation because the trucks must plow at 15 mph. Managers determine whether plowing will increase the efficiency of the overall operation for each snow event.

When do you plow residential streets?
Plowing in residential areas is only executed during a major event, upon directive from the Public Works Director. Should the decision be made to plow residential areas, the work will be started as soon as adequate plowing has occurred along the arterial and collector routes to permit the smaller plow vehicles to access the needed areas.

Plowing along residential streets will be limited to a single pass, except for known problem areas (Hot Spots), bus routes, or collector streets that pass through a residential area and are listed within the primary and secondary route sheets.

How do I know what streets will be plowed?
Priorities have been established to help the City provide the most effective and efficient snow and ice control. The City has created an interactive map of City snow routes. You can view it here:
http://topeka.maps.arcgis.com/apps/OnePane/azuretwitter/index.html?appid=b7983940a7c24c1cb0d96a52a24f3a00

My street has been treated, but it is still not passable without a lot of difficulty. What should I do?
Several elements increase the melting action of the salt, including sun, heat from your vehicle's tires and time. The process is actually helped by traffic moving carefully on the street. Use your winter driving skills to maneuver on streets that are treated and the salt will do its job. Allow extra time and drive carefully.

How can I help the City with its snow removal plan?
Please, exercise extreme caution when snowfall begins. You can also help by shoveling your sidewalk and limiting travel as much as possible during extreme winter snow events.

If my car gets towed because of a snow emergency, how do I get it back?
If a snow emergency is declared, citizens are given adequate time to move their cars from posted snow emergency routes before any tickets are issued or vehicles towed. For information about where your vehicle was towed, please contact the Topeka Police Department. You will be responsible for the costs of any violations.

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