During the late evening of December 25, 2021, a winter storm materialized over much of western Oregon. The storm, which had been forecasted for about a week, brought more than eight inches of snow to the city of Eugene in about 36 hours – a significant amount of snow for the city.
Public Works utilizes up to 14 vehicles to battle snow and ice. Because the storm hit on a holiday, the number of people who could respond was limited. The initial response started around 11 p.m. on December 25.
As the temperatures dropped, crews distributed deicer to known trouble spots – overpasses, bridges, and other elevated surfaces. Rain quickly turned to snow. By the morning the 6 a.m. on Sunday the snow was accumulating on the surfaces. The City declared an Ice/Snow Emergency by 7:45 a.m. on December 26, which prohibits parking along streets designated as snow emergency routes – typically collectors, arterials, and bus routes.
The snow accumulations were quickly adding up – but Public Works Maintenance and Parks and Open Space staff were up to the challenge. They utilized a limited work force due to the proximity to the holiday and planned vacations but were able to achieve one of their goals – keep snow emergency routes operational with a priority being to provide a reasonably safe traveling surface.
Crews worked 12-hour shifts for four consecutive days – plowing, sanding and applying deicer to make the transportation network safer. While each night brought additional freezing conditions, crews were up to the challenge and minimized the impact.
The storm also brought down several trees crashing down onto power lines and onto roads. Crews from the Urban Forestry team scrambled to open roads and remove debris.
As the weather moderated and returned closer to seasonal norms, the Public Works Department lifted the emergency declaration on Wednesday, December 29, essentially ending their large response. In the four-day response crews plowed more than 2,100 miles of lanes, distributed 165 cubic yards of sand, and applied nearly 4,600 gallons of deicer.
Of course, the work is not successful without help from the community. The City would like to thank local partners including Eugene Water and Electric Board, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Lane Transit District, among others.