Dashing through the snow

Buff said he tries to get his drivers in for a four- or five-hour nap throughout the busy days. But the job isn't done until the snow stops falling, the snow is pushed back up to the mailboxes and the crews have finished with salting.

"If it's slushy it's easy, but if it's icy then it takes a lot longer," Ed said. "There's no one formula to fit every storm."

With the coastal storm that flared up on this day, the hope was that it would start slowing down around noon, allowing the drivers to be done for the day around 4 p.m. If there was still some work to be done, Ed said, his supervisors might send the early crew home and bring in the night-shift guys.

Before the plowing even begins, the town initially lays down salt, said Buff. For this storm, 1,000 tons of salt might be used, costing the department $52,000.

Tom Romano, one of the other supervisors at the Highway Department, said the job isn't done until 80 percent of the road is bare. After a full day of plowing, the collective number of miles covered could range between 800 to 1,000 miles.

"You might be through a route three times," he said. "You basically keep going, especially if you're getting an inch and a half an hour."

The following day's objective, Buff said, will be removing snow from the cul-de-sacs and the sidewalks with four different sidewalk machines that take care of 50-60 miles of sidewalk.

"We can usually get through all of the sidewalks in 10, maybe 12 hours," Buff said. "It depends on the size of the storm."

When mishaps happen

If the storm is a light one, then the snow is much easier to plow, Romano said, but when it's heavier, then drivers might experience damage to their trucks, such as broken hydraulic and transmission lines. If the snow has frozen over, the wing on the truck can even break off if the driver hits an icy snow bank.

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