Winter Operations FAQs

  1. What is the City's winter operations plan?
    The Winter Operations Program focuses on using a systematic approach for treating streets. The goal is to have streets treated and safe for travel within 24 hours of the end of an ordinary snowfall. Our operational plans are based on efficiently routing snow treatment equipment. This equipment is deployed using weather predictions provided by local television networks and a variety of local and national weather forecasting services.
  2. How does the City develop a winter operations plan?
    The City assesses road conditions from local forecasts, weather websites and professional weather services to form an operations plan for each storm. Every snow storm is different, and the planning for each storm takes many factors into account, including snow accumulation predictions and temperatures before, during, and immediately after the end of the snowfall. These factors drive the planning process.
  3. How will you keep the public informed about street conditions?
    The Department of Public Services utilizes every means possible to improve communications to better inform the public.  As always, the City partners with the news media to keep citizens informed. You can also receive updates through:
  4. How can I help the City with its snow removal plan?
    Please, exercise extreme caution when snowfall begins. You can also help by shoveling your sidewalk and limiting travel as much as possible during extreme winter snow events.
  5. If my car gets towed because of a snow emergency, how do I get it back?
    If a snow emergency is declared, citizens are given adequate time to move their cars from posted snow emergency routes before any tickets are issued or vehicles towed. For information about where your vehicle was towed, please contact the Cincinnati Police District Office that patrols the location where your car was parked. You will be responsible for the costs of any violations.
  6. What methods does the City use to treat ice- or snow-covered streets?
    The City uses three treatment methods when addressing snow accumulation:
    • Anti-icing is a pre-treatment product (salt or salt brine) used on the streets to prevent snow or ice from binding to roadways.

    • De-icing occurs by using calcium chloride and salt on streets during the storm to melt snow or ice precipitation.

    • Plowing uses snow equipment to remove higher accumulations of snow before using de-icing products. Plowing may leave rows or ridges of snow in front of driveways and is the slowest treatment process.

  7. My street has been treated, but it is still not passable without a lot of difficulty.  What should I do?
    Several elements increase the melting action of the salt, including sun, heat from your vehicle's tires and time. The process is actually helped by traffic moving carefully on the street.  Use your winter driving skills to maneuver on streets that are treated and the salt will do its job. Allow extra time and drive carefully.
  8. When do you plow the streets to make them passable?
    There is a flexible standard of plowing streets when snow accumulation reaches four (4) inches and additional accumulation is expected.  There are other factors to consider before we include plowing in our snow removal plan, such as temperatures before, during and right after the snowfall -- as well as the amount of additional snowfall that is expected.  Plowing slows down our operation because the trucks must plow at 15 mph. Managers determine whether plowing will increase the efficiency of the overall operation for each snow event.