Snow Plowing / Emergency Routes
When you live in Wyoming, snow is an inevitable part of our fall, winter, and spring seasons. However, no matter how inevitable, the number of storms and the amount that falls vary from year to year.
There are approximately 85 miles of streets in Rawlins. The Streets Division of Public Works has a snow removal priority plan. Because of the high cost of equipment and labor, the City cannot economically justify the removal of all snowfall from every street in the City. The City’s snow response includes snow plowing, followed by snow removal, from priority routes.
This plan divides our community streets into four categories: Priority 1 (which are also our emergency routes), Priority 2, Priority 3, and non-priority. You can see a map of these routes below. The priorities are selected based on designated emergency routes, traffic volumes, steepness of hills, and access to businesses and schools. The snow removal plan was designed so very few residents must go more than a few blocks to get to a plowed street.
During an average snow event, with less than 6” of snow, the first goal is to have priorities one and two, as well as school and public transit routes, plowed, and deiced and/or sanded by 7:30 am prior to the morning rush hour traffic. This goal is contingent upon the magnitude and duration of any snow event. The secondary goal is to have all remaining priority streets plowed and any snow removed from priority streets within 3-5 working days.
We use gravity plows which are designed to ride on top of snowpack. Snow removal to the pavement causes issues with water valves, manholes, and the road generally. The average snowfall in Rawlins is about 52 inches per year, which is complicated by strong winds. Rawlins winds cause a larger-than-normal impact on drifting. It is common on some city streets for the snow to drift into the street overnight for days in a row, causing personnel to clear the same streets repeatedly.
Severe Snowstorms Addressed by New Plan
The City of Rawlins generally budgets, prepares, and staffs for an average Rawlins winter, which involves multiple snowstorms averaging under 6” of snow throughout the winter. However, when more than 6” of snow falls in 24 hours or less, we consider this a severe snow storm.
In 2023, the City of Rawlins created a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) for severe snowstorms after the severe storms in early 2023. The CEMP sets in place snow removal and communication activities adapted appropriately to the amount of snow that has fallen and accumulated.
For situations such as emergencies, injury, and illness, plows are dispatched with the first responders to provide passage to the residential areas where accessibility is a concern.
The City may also limit traffic, including road closures, as determined by the Police Department and Public Works Department. The approx. 1000 feet of Harshman Street from north of the Rawlins Family Recreation Center to south of the Carbon County Higher Education Center will likely be closed as it drifts in quickly.
Weather Advisories & Snow Emergencies
The city may issue various alerts to help notify and protect our residents. Want to make sure you receive our alerts? Sign up for news via email or text at www.rawlinswy.gov/notifyme for “City of Rawlins News.”
- If a snow emergency is called, all Snow Emergency Routes (designated as our Priority 1 routes) have a special "No Parking" ban to allow for better snow control. These routes are clearly marked with signs.
- We may also issue a weather advisory to ask people to limit travel unless necessary and urgent.
What responsibilities do residents have?
- Be a safe driver!
- Give snow removal personnel space to work.
- Brake slowly. Allow room between yourself and the next vehicle.
- In reduced visibility, watch for pedestrians and other vehicles.
- Be patient. Plan extra travel time.
- Use snow tires or chains when necessary.
- Clear your sidewalk so foot traffic can continue throughout our community, including kids going to the bus and mail delivery. Sidewalk and driveway openings are the responsibility of the property owner.
- Do not push the snow into City streets, other rights-of-way, or others’ properties without permission.
- Moving snow from private property onto the roadway and rights-of-way is illegal. It is also dangerous for you, city workers, and traffic as it creates dangerous driving conditions and humps in the road.
- If you do move snow from the roadways, please have a plan for where to plow it and obtain all appropriate permissions. Alleys need to remain open to allow for access to utilities and for alley parking.
- If there is snow moved onto your property by an independent person without permission, you can call the Police Department Communications Center at 307-328-4530 for Code Enforcement to review. Notes or photos may also help us identify whom to reach out to regarding the snow plowing/removal.
- The City does not push snow onto sidewalks or private property. We move snow to the appropriate corner with right-of-way for storage.
- Make sure you are prepared to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Before the weather hits, make sure to seal cracks and holes, insulate pipes that are located in cold and drafty places inside the home, and disconnect all outside hoses. When the temperature does drop, keep the heat in your home at a minimum of 55 F, allow drips from faucets overnight, and turn on heating tape.
- Maintain access to your own utility equipment, such as water meters/curb stops. It is also important for homeowners to keep their own gas meters clear. According to Black Hills Energy, snow-covered meters may operate incorrectly, potentially causing gas flow or carbon monoxide issues. More information is available at www.blackhillsenergy.com/safety
- If a severe snowstorm is predicted, please move vehicles off the street when possible. This allows easier passage for our equipment if/when plowing occurs.
- If you are near a fire hydrant, please help make sure it is visible from the road. It does not need to be completely snow-free, but please keep it partially cleared and do not pile snow on the hydrant.
- We encourage people to submit areas where there are drifting or other issues to us through our website at http://rawlinswy.org/concern, by calling Public Works at 307-328-4599 during regular office hours, or by calling the RPD Communications Center at 307-328-4530 on holidays, weekends, or after hours. If the community helps us know which areas are having issues, we can better use our time.