Snow Removal Process & Phases

During Snowfall

  • Snow crews focus on keeping main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation (red primary routes). This includes snow emergency routes, arterial streets, main bus routes, and roads to hospitals, fire stations, Metro stations, and the police station.
  • Plowing generally begins when snow becomes 2-4 inches deep.
  • When accumulation is less than 2 inches, roadways are only treated.

After Snowfall

  • Snow crews concentrate on clearing snow from all streets as soon as possible.
  • Neighborhood streets are cleared last.
  • After a severe snowstorm (greater than 10 inches), it may take 36-48 hours after the snow stops falling before County plows can start clearing residential streets.

Snow Removal Status — Four Key Phases

Phase 1: Alert

What the County Does

  • A winter weather storm has been forecast for the region.
  • Snow crews are on alert and treating roads where necessary.

What You Do

  • Move parked cars off of streets, or coordinate with neighbors and/or civic association to move cars to one side of the street only. Snow removal vehicles need at least 15-feet to pass down a street.
  • Be prepared. Have at least a three-day supply of food and water.
  • Plan to stay informed.
  • Your neighbors may need your help. Register through Volunteer Arlington or contact your civic association.

Phase 2: Primary Routes

What the County Does

  • A winter weather storm is in effect. Snow crews are treating and plowing primary (red) and secondary (blue) arterials only while snow continues to fall.
  • VDOT is treating and plowing VDOT roads.
  • Roads may only be passable with one lane in each direction. Roads may be icy and have accumulations of 2-4 inches or greater.
  • Residential streets are snow covered.

What You Do

  • Do not drive unless necessary so roads will be open for emergency and snow removal vehicles.
  • Help your neighbors clean the sidewalk on the same side of the street as parked cars to increase pedestrian safety.
  • Keep snow cleared from fire hydrants, storm drains and downspouts on your home.

Phase 3: Residential Streets

What the County Does

What You Do

  • Use our snow issue form to report any snow removal problems.
  • Help neighbors clean the sidewalks. Snow Removal Ordinance enforcement begins 24 hours after the snow stops falling.
  • Clear driveways and entrances.
  • Shovel snow into the yard instead of the street to keep snow removal vehicles from recovering the driveway entrance.
  • Commercial parking lots and sidewalks are the owner’s responsibility.

Phase 4: Clean Up

What the County Does

  • Snow crews are working on clean-up operations. After treatment and the sun has done its work, crews are removing ice and slush off roads.
  • Staff are removing snow from schools and County property.

What You Can Do