February 5, 2008
First of all, if you know someone who drives a state, county or city snowplow, tell them thanks. The past week has been somewhat harrowing for everyone, but especially for those who were out plowing and patrolling our wind-blown, snow-packed highways.
Amazingly, after each wave of furious snowfall, Summit County and Park City’s major arteries were cleared. Except during the height of the storm when visibility in places was reduced to less than a car length, it was still possible to get to work, or home, or to a hospital. Park City Schools closed for just one day. Throughout the county, school bus routes were given top priority by street crews while police and sheriff’s deputies pitched in to guard crossing zones.
Most cities across the country would have been crippled by the amount of snow our mountains received this week. But employees still made it to work, Deer Valley managed to pull off a world-class World Cup event, visitors got to ski fresh powder, letters and packages were delivered and the local economy barely skipped a beat.
It wasn’t easy though. Public safety personnel worked overtime and many took significant personal risks to ensure others’ made it safely to their destinations. They pushed cars out of snowdrifts in the midst of traffic and formed protective blockades around the relatively few accidents that did occur.
At the same time, their public works counterparts drove back-to-back shifts plowing and salting, and re-plowing routes from Royal Street to Chalk Creek. And even after the sky cleared they were out digging wind trenches and pushing back snow banks to make way for the next storm.
Severe weather tests our mettle and last week Summit County residents, even though most are transplants, proved they could measure up to their predecessors. Neighborhoods banded together to dig each other out and even strangers stopped to offer assistance to those less well prepared.
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It is unlikely we will see another storm of that magnitude this winter, but we will see more snow. That means it is important to cooperate with city and county requests to keep streets clear of parked cars so snowplows continue to work and to make sure fire hydrants are accessible.
It is also imperative that backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers avoid avalanche-prone areas of the backcountry even though the snow has stopped falling and the sun is out — so that city and county personnel along with ski patrollers and search and rescue volunteers can get some much-needed rest.