Yes, it’s still winter
So this is good news*. Omaha snow removal crews are “planning for the worst,” said Scott McIntyre, the city’s street maintenance engineer.
“This really has the potential to be a pretty significant snowfall,” McIntyre said of this week’s expected storm. “It’s going to be a difficult snow operation to stay on top of.”
The city will also declare a snow emergency late Thursday/Friday, meaning new parking regulations will take effect.
Pothole season is upon us
The good news: It’s not the worst pothole season we’ve seen in recent years. Mild temperatures and limited snowfall (so far, anyway) have meant fewer massive craters in Omaha’s roads.
City crews starting filling in the holes in December, when there were 10 work orders for potholes. The number jumped to 186 in January and was already at 151 by late last week.
The bad news: A few more snow-melt cycles might make the numbers jump even higher. But the city does have several ways to get in touch about a pothole that needs repaired.
You can check in by phone (402-444-4919), online through the Public Works Department or by using the city’s mobile app.
City digs through plowing complaints
I took to Twitter the other day to get your feelings on the city’s snow plow efforts after last week’s blizzard. The reviews are mixed.
It seems as though the city’s arterial streets are largely fine, but the same can’t be said for many residential streets around Omaha. The Public Works Department knows this, and have been trying to work on slick spots — but the little bit of snow that fell this afternoon isn’t helping matters at all.
Mixed results for snow emergency rules
Omaha’s upgraded snow emergency enforcement began Thursday – to the surprise of dozens of drivers who were apparently unaware of the rules.
Reporter Roseann Moring tagged along with a Public Works crew on the hunt for people who had failed to get their cars out of the path of plows. (For those who have forgotten, you’re supposed to park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses on even days, and odd side on odd-numbered days.)
Many people seemed to be confused about the idea of parking in areas with no-parking signs. But failing to park under those signs (if it was on the proper side of the street) left many with orange envelopes stuck under their windshield wipers. By 5:30 p.m., 170 cars had been ticketed.
Snow emergency to start at midnight
The City of Omaha will declare a snow emergency at midnight, which means you need to pay attention to where you park your car.
Under the snow emergency rules, on even-numbered days, drivers should park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses (that’s either north or west.) On odd-numbered days, leave your car on the odd-numbered (south or east) side of the street.
Enforcement for this particular storm will start around noon on Thursday. Leave your car on the wrong side and you’ll risk getting a ticket or having your car towed. On residential streets, Public Works crews will likely tow cars to a safe spot nearby.
Vehicles stranded on major roadways, however, will likely end up in the impound lot.
In snow emergencies, city will tow
Let’s say it starts to feel a little more like winter and we get a serious dumping of snow.
The city declares a snow emergency — requiring cars parked east of 72nd Street to be moved to one side or another, depending on the day — and you forget to move your car. Once the storm’s over, you come outside, ice scraper in hand, and the car is nowhere to be found.
Chances are, it’s been moved down the street.
Under plans approved by the City Council this week, Public Works crews can step up their efforts during snow emergencies. Cars left on the wrong side of city streets could be towed to a safe spot nearby, while those abandoned on major roadways will likely be towed to an impound lot.
Council members said they were supportive of efforts to get snow plows through neighborhoods more quickly.
Where are the potholes?
No snow on the ground means fewer of Omaha's winter menace
You must surely feel driving around Omaha is less interesting this winter. Fewer potholes means fewer chances to test your evasive maneuver skills.
There’s no doubt this winter season has been a lot easier on city streets.
Just as an example, the city received 1,135 calls and emails complaining about potholes during the first five days of March 2010.
So far, the city hasn’t seen anywhere near as much snow as it has in the past couple winters. That has city officials hoping they can save some snow removal budget money this year. And it means fewer potholes.
City plows are preparing for what could be winter's first real snowfall
Forecast says it might snow. We saw flurries today.
Meanwhile, the city’s Public Works department is prepping for what could be this winter’s first measurable snowfall.
Scott McIntyre, Omaha’s street maintenance engineer, said crews are preparing to work around the clock on Saturday if 2 to 4 inches of white junk fall.
Crews are currently preparing plows and trucks to make sure all the equipment is in working order. It’s a “standard check” for a snow event, McIntyre said.
“Sometime (Friday), we’ll be in kind of standby mode to see when this thing is going to start and if it materializes,” he said.
Remember, the city plans to hire five additional plowing contractors — for a total of 18 — to help city crews clear residential areas once snow starts to fall this year. That’ll cost about $1 million.
Other than that, city officials said their plans to remove snow from city streets won’t change much from last year.
More private plows to hit city streets this winter
Mayor Jim Suttle looks comfortable in a shiny new snowplow
Omaha plans to hire five more plowing contractors — for a total of 18 — to help city crews clear residential areas once snow starts to fall.
The city plans to spend roughly $1 million on private contractors this winter, said city street maintenance engineer Scott McIntyre. The new contractors will help the city cover newly annexed areas across west and northwest Omaha.
Other than that, city officials said, their plans to remove snow from city streets won’t change much from last year.But, as Mayor Jim Suttle put it, “’Tis the season for us to start thinking about snow because it’s on its way.”