What does a snow fall mean for me?

When snow falls, many questions are asked. Will my street get plowed? When will my street get plowed? Can I park on my street?

According to City Policy, Priority One streets (Snow Routes) will be plowed as necessary until they have been substantially cleared from curb to curb. Priority One streets are determined to be major traffic streets either by design or actual traffic flow and are intended to be used by emergency response vehicles and motorist as the access routes to and from major areas of the city.

Priority Two streets included typical subdivision streets, cul-de-sacs, and bike paths and are plowed after snowfall accumulations measure two inches or more.

These practices are of a general nature only and may vary to a great degree depending on storm factors including: wind, temperatures, moisture content, and other conditions encountered.

Snow and ice control operations will include such work as plowing, blowing, and the spreading of salts and/or abrasives. The use of salts shall be limited to: 

  1. Priority One streets, as necessary, to meet the goal of providing curb access as soon as possible.
  2.  As necessary on such potentially hazardous locations on Priority Two streets at intersections, curves, hills, school areas, valley gutters, and as necessary to prevent rutting or other abnormal winter roadway conditions from potentially becoming highway defects or when the use of plowing or abrasives alone will not correct the hazardous conditions.
  3. Salt may be used as part of a plowing operation to prevent the formation of hard-packed snow, which would adhere to the pavement.

Can I park on my street?

Parking is not allowed from December 1 through March 31 on all designated SNOW ROUTES from midnight to 7:00 AM. These streets are marked with red and white signs.

When a SNOW EMERGENCY is declared, no parking is allowed on any city street until the emergency has been cancelled or expires.

Vehicles parked in violation may be ticketed or towed.

Snow emergencies are generally declared when 3 or more inches of snow fall in a 24 hour period. They are reported to local radio and TV stations, posted to the city website and Facebook, sent to residents via Nixle, posted on City Twitter accounts (@sunprairiepd), and added to the Public Works voicemail (837-3050).

What can I do to help make plowing operations easiest, safest, and most effective?

  1. When a snowfall is anticipated, parking off the street is appreciated when available. This allows the plows to more effectively clear the street, making travel safer for all vehicles.
  2. Place refuse and recycle carts out properly, in the driveway or terrace area. Carts in the street create problems with plows clearing along the curb line and in turn can interfere with mail delivery.
  3. Be patient as the plows work their way through the city, clearing and making travel safe. Be aware of the road conditions and travel at safe speeds and leave plenty of room for stopping.

City Parking Lots are available for overnight parking during snow emergencies. Residents in the Prospect Commons area may park at Merchant Square at 3011 Prospect Drive. 

What do I do if my mailbox is hit by the plow?

Properly placed mailboxes that are hit by the plow (not snow/ice/debris that comes off the plow blade) need to be reported to Public Works, please call 837-3050 or email. Crews will come out and inspect the damaged mailbox and do a temporary fix if possible. If the mailbox can not be fixed, a temporary mailbox will be delivered so you can continue to receive mail at your location. In the spring, when the ground is thawed, all damaged mailboxes will be repaired or replaced by city crews. Residents have the option of repairing or replacing the mailbox themselves and being reimbursed up to $100 (must have receipts).

Why does the City plow snow in front of my driveway?

Snow plow operators do not place snow in driveways on purpose. Our plow drivers are sensitive to the work residents do to dig out. If possible, our plow drivers will try to prevent excessive blockages at driveways, but at times this is not possible. Our primary goal of plowing is to remove snow from streets, so that the road is open to traffic, making it safer to travel. The most efficient method to accomplish plowing the roads is to push snow to the side of the road. 

Many people don't realize that the City uses big dump trucks to plow snow. They're not like the plows used in parking lots where they can move the snow piles one way or the other quickly. The snow is loaded on the front of the plow and continually moves off the driver's side to the passenger's side, left to right towards the gutter. There is not a practical way for the snow plow operator to cut off the windrow of snow when crossing a driveway. The driver cannot stop or raise the plow at each driveway as this would leave a pile of snow in the roadway. This is a bigger challenge in alleys and cul-de-sacs given the limited amount of space. 

When should I shovel?

Wait until the plow has been through your street prior to clearing your driveway or mailbox, if possible. However, if drifting occurs the plows will have to make multiple passes on a road at a later time to keep the road clear. After very heavy snowfalls, crews may have to clean up the next day, which again will place snow in your driveway. 

For additional information

Snow Routes Designated (ordinance) 

Snow Emergency Declaration (ordinance) 

Snow Route Map