Why did Omaha not plow the side streets after the snow on Saturday?

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – Residents of Omaha who crouched down for a big storm to start the New Year on Saturday saw forecasts predicting snowfall amounts of three to seven inches.

Instead, the storm dropped an inch and a half of snow over the Elkhorn area and two and a half inches over Eppley Airfield. It straddled Omaha’s two-inch trigger to plow its side streets.

This left the city with a decision: To plow the city’s residential streets. Or not. In the end, the city held on. But who made the decision and why?

Mayor Jean Stothert spokesperson Carrie Murphy told 3 News Now Investigators Monday that Public Works Director Bob Stubbe and his street team made the call.

She says they decide based on snowfall totals measured at five public works road maintenance sites in all corners of the city, from Elkhorn to South Omaha.

None of the yards measured more than two inches of snow on Saturday, Stubbe said. The city made its decision at noon, he said, before Eppley recorded his total of 2.5 inches.

“Based on the time we had to move our forces to the field, we decided that the five district work camps did not warrant sending the contractors,” he said.

One of the reasons for the larger variations in the city’s snow totals this weekend was drier-than-normal snow in Omaha, 3 News Now meteorologist Mark Stitz said. Slight changes in the amount of humidity led to larger variations, he said.

Stubbe says the dry, cold and windy conditions also led to a lot of snow blast that blew local streets and onto nearby curbs and yards.

Omaha needed four inches of snow to clear residential streets. The city changed to two inches of snow in 2016, after years of public complaints.

Based on the forecast for last Saturday, Public Works has informed the 25 private contractors whose employees drive more than 150 pickup trucks with plows to be ready.

Stubbe says they ultimately didn’t need it, and the decision not to plow side streets saved city taxpayers about $ 250,000. So, was a little white matter inconvenience worth it?

Public Works says it has received few complaints about the decision not to clear snow from side streets. 3 News Now City Council members contacted for this story did not return calls for complaints.

The city says it received more complaints over the past weekend about unexpected freezing fog. Public Works says it will continue to make its judgment on snow removal based on the best information it has.

This ended up littering residential streets, especially near stop signs and on the hills, Stubbe said.

A quick drive around Omaha on Monday afternoon showed a lot of melting in local neighborhoods. Warmer temperatures on Tuesday should help remove much of the rest.

“Mother Nature, after the storm, you know, you look and say and people can move,” Stubbe said.

RELATED: Contractors will not be used to plow residential areas in Omaha

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