Be Snow Safe – Stay Informed on Snow Removal Operations

Feel the chill in the air and morning precip. blanketing our roads? Winter is knocking on our door, prepare ahead for the snow and cold while keeping your children safe. Clean out rain gutters and avoid placing leaf litter in roads. When the snow finally does coat the Sierras, keep your kids (and friends) from playing in the snow next to the roadways, our snow removal team cannot see them! Visit our website to learn more about snow removal operations in Washoe County at


The purpose of this plan is to annually review our snow and ice control methods and procedures to ensure that all work is done in a safe, efficient and environmentally sound manner. As a result of this planning effort, Washoe County residents will have priority streets that are safe and accessible. Finally, because Truckee Meadows is considered a non-attainment area for air quality, the annual plan must be designed to meet the new Washoe County Air Quality Mandates.

Delivery of emergency snow response services to the citizens of Washoe County and those who travel our streets during snow storms is a primary responsibility of the County Public Works Department. The Department takes pride in performing this service in an efficient and effective manner with an emergency snow response plan that is both proven and economical for normal winter weather in Washoe County’s rural and urban areas.

The goal is to provide fiscally responsible emergency response services during snow events, supporting the safety and mobility of our transportation system by plowing and treating county streets as efficiently as possible, keeping priority streets passable, minimizing disruption to traffic and keeping costs to a minimum.


Washoe County’s road inventory contains approximately 700 paved center lane miles and another 404 miles of gravel roads for a total of 1,104 center lane miles divided into 84 snow and ice control routes. Priority is given to arterial and collector streets along with school routes and bus routes. These are labeled as priority 1 routes and as such are treated first. More information regarding the actual priority assigned to certain roads is available on the Washoe County Public Works website.

Alerting Crews

During November through March the County’s Director of Roads and Crew Supervisors begin daily monitoring of the weather forecasts for any approaching winter storms. The Public Works Director will be kept appraised of the situation on a regular basis, especially when required resources exceed the available county owned resources.

Proposed Service Response

Incline Village/Crystal Bay and Truckee Meadows snow/ice control will be supported and performed by staff assigned out of our Longley Lane Corporation yard. Gerlach/Vya will be staffed from the Gerlach yard. Washoe County has equipment staged in three distinct area’s around the county. They are Incline Village/Crystal Bay, Gerlach/Vya, and the Truckee Meadows.

Weather will be monitored daily from October thru March and pending storms will be serviced based on projected severity and length. Storm pre-planning will be performed for each storm event to provide a better idea of when to bring in the resources to begin snow removal. Due to reductions approved by the Board of County Commissioners, staff as well as equipment has been reduced by approximately 10% this fiscal year. With this reduction it is important to utilize the staff in the most efficient manner.

Incline Village/Crystal Bay, Truckee Meadows, and Gerlach/Vya daily weather conditions will be monitored by various road staff. The Road Division has an on call supervisor for after hours who will monitor approaching weather events, this is to include physical monitoring of Incline Village/Crystal Bay as well as Truckee Meadows. The on call supervisor will be responsible for alerting and assigning crews and resources when needed in Incline and the Truckee Meadows. Gerlach/Vya will be handled by an on site Supervisor in Gerlach.

Support staff will be put on stand-by only when weather situations warrant it. Generally a storm predicted to last 10 hours or less will not have a service impact when compared to 2010/2011. Storms lasting longer than 12 hours will cause delays in attending to priority two and three routes throughout the county.

New this year we will be introducing “Brine” into our snow/ice control plan. While this new to us technology is being developed and implemented into our planning we are faced with significant staff training that needs to be weighed against our snow response. It is anticipated that this technology will result in cleaner air thru the reduction of particulates, and less materials to sweep up after events. Because brine is placed on roads before the storm, it allows a more proactive approach to snow/ice control instead of the traditional reactive response.

General Information and Facts

Annual Roads overtime budget is currently funded for FY 11/12- $39,000

Annual Call Back budget – FY 11/12-$45,400

Annual Stand-by budget – FY 11/12-$46,280

Truckee Meadows: 71 snow plow routes totaling 553 paved center lane miles serviced by 26 pieces of snow response equipment

Incline Village /Crystal Bay: 11 snow plow routes totaling 73 paved center lane miles serviced by 10 pieces of snow response equipment

Gerlach / Vya : 2 snow plow routes totaling 85 paved center lane miles serviced by 3 pieces of snow response equipment.

Number of Snow/Ice events at Incline Village for past two years:

FY 09/10 – 12 separate events

FY 10/11 – 30 separate events

Number of Snow/Ice events in the Truckee Meadows for past two years:

FY 09/10 – 17 separate events

FY 10/11 – 33 separate events

Number of Snow/Ice events in Gerlach/Vya for past two years:

FY 09/10 – 19 separate events

FY 10/11 – 32 separate events

Sanding and Plowing Procedures

Once a storm has been identified as heading into the Reno area, staff tracks it and determines what resources will be needed to treat the event. Individual operators will determine in their assigned route when to apply deicing material. Each crew member commences to treating all priority “One“ routes in their assigned area. If the snow event is under control and all priority “One” routes have been treated then staff will turn their efforts into treating priority “two / three routes” only when all routes have been serviced with a pass in and out will staff turn their attention to clearing all street from shoulder to shoulder.

Storm Clean-up

After a storm event, street sweepers will be sent out to remove all applied salt/sand materials as expeditiously and safely as weather and road conditions permit.

Washoe County Air Quality Mandates

Because air quality in Washoe County has not met EPA Standards, Washoe County Health Department has mandated new regulations to improve air quality. These mandates effect how our snow and ice control program is conducted. The goal of this program is:

1) Reduce the amount of sand spread on County streets for snow and ice control

2) Reduce the time required to sweep up this sand after a storm event, and

3) Change the type of sand used to a harder material. The effect of this rule will be to reduce the amount of particulate matter (PM) entrained in the ambient air as a result of blowing winds, the roads drying out, and vehicles traveling over the sand.


Roads which are identified as major arterial and collectors, major structures, overpasses, bridges, steep grades, school bus routes at or above 6,000 feet, emergency vehicle routes, fire station sites, schools and freeway feeder streets.


Roads which are identified as secondary arterial, secondary collectors, residential roads, all remaining school bus routes.


All unpaved routes, cul-de-sacs and County jogging/bicycle paths. Snow/ice control activities are staged out of these four maintenance yards: Longley Lane, Incline Village, Gerlach, and Vya. From these locations, crews address the prioritized snow routes. Each location is equipped and staffed to function independently