Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Snow business: Know the rules when clearing driveways, walks

Staff Writer | January 7, 2022 12:00 PM

MOSES LAKE — Yes, it is January. And yes, that is snow out there. There’s the potential for snow as late as mid-March. So the time has come to consider getting in and out of the driveway – after all, it won’t clear itself.

One thing city officials throughout the Columbia Basin don’t want homeowners to do is throw the snow into the street. Shoveling snow into the street can earn the shoveler a $47 fine in Ephrata.

Moses Lake city officials published a brochure on the city’s snow removal policy, and it includes recommendations on proper driveway cleaning techniques.

City officials suggest throwing snow to the right side of the driveway. They also ask residents to clear the area on the left side of the driveway.

“This gives plows a place to unload snow and helps reduce the chance of a snow berm being created across your driveway,” the brochure said.

Yeah, that berm. Moses Lake residents are responsible for clearing any snow accumulation at the end of the driveway, and so are Othello, Ephrata and Quincy residents.

“Throwing snow in the street, especially after the street has been plowed, can lead to frozen bumps,” according to a post on Quincy’s social media page.

“This creates a hazard for emergency crews and the driving public (and) it slows down plowing efforts,” according to the city of Ephrata’s website.

“There are two reasons for (the city) not clearing driveways; the costs are prohibitive (double), and the contractor has identified that many residential streets are narrow and the equipment makes it difficult to navigate, causing vehicle accidents,” according to the Moses Lake brochure.

The website The Spruce, recommends leaving the spot where the driveway meets the road for last, so there’s a chance the snowplow will have gone by already and built up all the berm it’s going to build. The Spruce also discouraged building up piles along the sides of the driveway, since some of that snow will fall back into the driveway and need to be shoveled twice.

The website Family Handyman recommends making a schedule, clearing the driveway periodically rather than waiting until the storm is over. Family Handyman suggests shoveling every one to two hours, depending on how long the snow is supposed to last.

There can be ice under all that snow, and while salt and commercial deicers are alternatives for getting rid of it, rubbing alcohol is a non-salty option. The website Brinly suggests 70% isopropyl alcohol in a quart or half-gallon spray bottle. Rubbing alcohol will take 15 to 30 minutes to work.

Family Handyman suggests spraying cooking spray on the shovel to encourage the snow to slide off more easily. The Spruce also suggests candle wax, floor wax or car wax. But whatever they use, people should clean the shovel before putting it away.

For those who have a snowblower, Family Handyman recommends starting in the center of the driveway and blowing snow to one side. A shop vacuum can make an impromptu snow blower, too – hook the hose to the exhaust.


Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald

Mike Rosenow shovels snow to the edge of a Moses Lake driveway Thursday, just as city officials ask.

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