Snow & Ice

Winter Driving in Mount Vernon

Snow/Ice Route Priority Map

We receive a lot of questions and comments about the City’s response to weather conditions, and with the recent snow event we thought it would be a good time to summarize how the City of Mount Vernon strategizes its approach to making our roads safe, and to review what those of us who drive the city streets can do to improve conditions. 

 Snow and Ice: When snowstorms hit, our City Street Department often works overnight using up to four snow plows to plow the city’s main arterial streets (see map), and then tends to the hills, the “feeder” streets, and some of the more heavily traveled residential streets. It is important to keep in mind that resources do not exist to clear every city street down to dry pavement. It is up to those of us who drive the streets to navigate them slowly and safely. And once a street is packed down to a hard layer of snow and ice, snow plows are ineffective at removing the ice. 

 Plowing is necessary to clear crucial roadways so that the community at-large (including first responders) can get to where they need to go. It is unavoidable to have snow pushed into driveways. If possible, move any cars off the street to allow room for the plows and wait to clear your driveway and sidewalk until after plows have passed. 

 Sanding Roadways: Sand is used to create better friction on icy surfaces, but it is not used without consequences to the public’s drainage and ecosystems. It also requires time and resources to clean up after the cold weather is gone. Sand is used on icy Mount Vernon streets, but it is used strategically, and not on every street. 

 What about Salt? Salt is used to melt snow on some roads, but it is not a cure-all. Even salt water freezes (at 28.4 degrees). 

 What You Can Do: Be sure to practice conscientious driving - give yourself extra time to get to wherever you’re going. If there is compact snow and ice on the street accelerate gradually, keep your speed low, and begin braking far ahead of the intersection you will be stopping at. Bald tires and sports cars do not perform well in winter conditions. The city’s road-clearing efforts provide us with a safer foundation, but keeping our streets accident free is the responsibility of all of us who get behind the wheel.