Winter Weather Preparation

January 24, 2022

Here are some answers to questions we get every year, and some insight into the planning and process of being prepared for a severe weather event.

This time of year, the days are short and the weather unpredictable. We know there’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety that comes with the disruption of plans when bad weather hits. Here are some answers to questions we get every year, and some insight into the planning and process of being prepared for a severe weather event.

Weather-awareness and preparedness is a fact of Public Works life. All city staff members with weather-event duties stay tuned into Douglas County Emergency Management Alerts, and we work closely with our outside partner agencies as needed. 

Sand and salt stock piles are ordered early and refilled as necessary. Trucks are readied, filled, and kept pointed outward, making roll out as efficient as possible. If there’s time before predicted weather comes in, we’ll get out and pre-treat with salt and sand. It doesn’t necessarily keep the roads from being slick, but it can make cleanup quicker and easier.

Typically we’ll wait until the snow is done to plow. Plowing while the snow is still falling is inefficient and expensive. We do monitor road conditions closely and stay in contact with Baldwin City Police Officers. If the roads are getting slick and causing dangerous conditions, we head out, even if the snow is still falling. 

Snow routes are: High Street, Lawrence Street to Highway 56, and 6th Street. If there is more than 2 inches of snow fall, you must move your vehicle off the snow routes in order to avoid being ticketed or towed. We do recommend moving vehicles off all city streets if possible when more than an inch of snow is expected, in order to allow the plows access. 

We focus on the snow routes, the roads near the schools, and downtown first. These are the heaviest traffic areas within city limits. The brick streets get slick very quickly, so we try to get to them early. They also take extra time because we need to navigate around vehicles.

Douglas County is responsible for 6th Street (1055) and KDOT maintains Highway 56. The city does not maintain these two main roads, including weather maintenance.

Visibility can be low from inside a plow truck, so please don’t assume the snow plow driver always sees you. The drivers are concentrating on several things — the position of the plow, curb lines, ditches, parked cars, mailboxes, watching their mirrors for traffic and pedestrians… all at the same time. Please try to make their job a bit easier and keep everyone a little safer.

If there’s enough snowfall to allow for sizable snow plow piles, please do NOT allow children to play in the piles. It can be exceedingly dangerous. On a related note, please give the drivers space. These trucks are large and heavy and don’t stop or turn quickly.

Last, please be patient with us. We are out working for our town in the worst of conditions. This is our home too, and we want to ensure the streets are safe as possible and get everyone home safely