Staffing problems plague city snow removalCity street crews are facing a staffing shortage as they start the clean-up process from Tuesday night’s storm that dropped 4 more inches of snow, according to Reed Schwartzkopf, Jamestown city engineer.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
City street crews are facing a staffing shortage as they start the clean-up process from Tuesday night’s storm that dropped 4 more inches of snow, according to Reed Schwartzkopf, Jamestown city engineer.
“We’re barely able to staff for the emergency routes and the downtown,” Schwartzkopf said, speaking of the snow removal work being done Wednesday and Wednesday night. “We will be short staffed for the residential work tomorrow.”
The city crews worked Wednesday on the emergency routes and shifted to the downtown area at 11 p.m. Wednesday. The crews are scheduled to begin work on residential streets at 11 a.m. today.
The second storm came on the heels of a weekend storm that dropped 7 inches of snow.
Schwartzkopf said the city normally has a full-time street department crew of 11 people but has been operating with eight staff members recently. The absences are from a variety of causes including injuries, illness and planned vacation.
“We’re down three bodies on the full-time staff and it took two hours to line up additional staff to handle downtown,” he said.
The city recruits temporary equipment operators and truck drivers from the crews of construction companies that are idle during the winter. The normal pool of workers they call on has also had injury and illness issues.
Schwartzkopf said staffing issues are not new to the street department.
“We’ve been on razor’s edge with the manpower for the last three years,” he said.
The snow amounts from Tuesday’s snowfall were less than earlier forecasts had anticipated.
“The large storm system that moved across the Plains brought thunderstorms to the central Plains and snow to the northern Plains,” said Janine Vining, meteorologist with the Nation Weather Service in Bismarck. “It tracked further to the south and east than we anticipated so we didn’t get as much moisture from the storm.”
Vining said the path of the storm center shifted by less than 80 miles from what was anticipated. This reduced the snowfall in Jamestown from a forecast of up to 12 inches to an actual count of about 4 inches.
She also said the same storm system was responsible for the tornadoes that damaged Branson, Mo., Wednesday night.
Vining warned that we are entering a normally active period of seasonal weather.
“During the transitional season a lot of weather systems will pass through,” she said. “The transitional season could last through May.”
Statistically March is one of the snowiest months each year. The average March snowfall is 7.2 inches for Jamestown with a water equivalent of 0.84 inches. January, on average, sees 11.7 inches of snow but only 0.45 inches of moisture.
“There is a lot of moisture brought up from the Gulf of Mexico,” Vining said. “It meets up with the cold air from the north and then we see a lot of snow.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knor email@example.com