The Not-So-Calm Before the Storm

New England is bracing for one doozy of a snowstorm this weekend (Feb. 7-9). Boston is expected to be right in the eye of it, potentially receiving upwards of two feet of snow before it's all said and done. Factor in some blustery winds and cold temps, and this is shaping up to be the most challenging snow event in a long, long time for the Boston area.

Snow removal contractors and snow removal equipment dealers help their communities get through events such as this. We're talking to some of them, finding out how they prepare in the hours leading up to "game time."

Arnie Arsenault of A. Arsenault & Sons in Spencer, MA. When an impending storm has been forecasted we will have all plows put on trucks and ready to go. All trucks, loaders, sanders and snowblowers are fueled. Fluids such as oil, transmission and wiper fluids are checked. Shovels, chains and schedules are placed in vehicles.

Also, all crew members are contacted and asked to pick up their trucks the day before or dayof the storm depending on the size of the storm that's approaching.

My partner, Scott, is in charge of dispatching crews when necessary. He handles problems which may arise, watches weather radar closely, handles calls from clients if needed, and keeps in touch with crews. Due to the size of the storm this time around, we have contacted all commercial accounts to find out what their hours of operation will be—so we may keep their parking lots open for business.

About three inches on the ground at this time (mid-afternoon February 8), but still forecasted for 18-24 inches in our town. The intensity of the storm is supposed to really pick up around 6 p.m., so we are in for a long night.

Doug McDuff of Landscape America in Wrentham, MA. We are going to be busy (the day before) moving equipment to parking lots, putting plows on trucks, checking fluids, and stocking inventory of salt and ice melt products. We typically have three or four guys come in for a half day to make sure all the plows are working properly, service vehicles, check lights, check snow blowers and sanders, fuel trucks, etc.

We send out an alert by text message to all of our shovelers and operators to make sure they are prepared. The timing is always the most difficult to predict, especially since we are depending on the notoriously incorrect predictions from our local weather people. However, we try to give our guys a timeframe so they can plan to meet at our shop and have changes of clothes, extra gloves and socks, and food in case we are out for 24 hours or more. There are always breakdowns in these storms that we can't predict, but we try to be as prepared as possible."