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; high-volume, multi-use County trails; 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 and trails are only treated.

After Snowfall

  • Snow crews concentrate on clearing snow from all streets and County trails 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 or trails.

Snow Removal Status — Four Key Phases

image of snow phase infographic

Click this image to view infographic full size.

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 and designated trails 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

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

  • Snow crews are treating and plowing residential streets.
  • Residential streets may only be passable with one lane. Primary (red) and secondary (blue) arterial roads are being widened to the shoulder.
  • As possible, additional County trails are cleared.

What You Do

  • Use our snow issue form to report any snow removal problems 24 hours after snow has fallen.
  • 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 and designated County trails.
  • Staff are removing snow from schools and County property.

What You Can Do