Snow Removal Efforts Could Reduce Flooding in the Metro

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Over the years, it has not been a common sight to see city trucks physically hauling snow out of the downtown area.

“About five times over the course of a decade, so it’s an unusual occurrence to have to haul snow out of downtown,” said Public Works Director Jonathan Gano.

So far, Gano says the department’s budget is in a solid spot. Despite near record-setting snowfall numbers, the department has only used $2.4 million out of a $3.2 million budget. Gano says they have been able to do more work with less manpower, thanks to new equipment.

Part of that effort is the use of a brand new snowblower…a really big one.

“It's a big improvement from how we used to do it. The old machine was basically a conveyor belt that would throw snow behind it, so the truck actually had to drive backwards to get loaded,” said Gano.

The blower attaches to the front of a truck and works like an oversized version of the one you have in your garage.

Des Moines Public Works' snow blower

Aside from making it easier to reach parking meters, moving the snow helps to limit the amount of flooding the metro could see through a combination of a brief warm up on Saturday and potential rain.

“We may see some minor street flooding as the snow melts and we get some rainfall. We'll have to keep an eye on things. We're not overly concerned,” said Jeff Zogg, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service.

Zogg says the greater risk for flooding will be in eastern and southeast Iowa where more rain is forecasted to hit. However, Zogg says we are set up for a really wet spring when a more constant melt will occur and rain will be more common.

“The factors that we look at such as the snow pack or the soil moisture and the ground frost and things like that, are all above normal, so they're predisposing us to flooding across the state” he said.

Zogg says with the right rainfall, eastern Iowa along the Mississippi River could see major flooding and central Iowa could see minor to moderate flooding.

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