Home Emergency Management News Take a Lesson from Erie's Record Snowfall and Learn How to Shovel Snow Properly

Take a Lesson from Erie's Record Snowfall and Learn How to Shovel Snow Properly

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

The city of Erie, Pennsylvania, is digging out from 65 inches of snow that fell between Christmas day and last Wednesday. But a new winter storm watch issued early Thursday morning calls for more snow late in the day through Saturday evening.

The Weather Service said heavy lake-effect snow is possible, with new accumulations of six to 10 inches. The heaviest amounts are likely to fall Friday night and early Saturday. The low temperature will be around nine degrees, and wind-chill temperatures could fall to -3.

On Wednesday, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper lifted the disaster emergency declaration that she signed on Tuesday. The declaration enabled the county to request services from the Pennsylvania National Guard, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

National Guard Sent Military Humvees to Transport Medical Workers to Hospitals

As a result of major accumulation, the National Guard sent military Humvees to transport medical workers to hospitals. Also, National Guard military ambulances assisted local ambulance companies that could not get to snowed-in locations.

Erie plow drivers have run continuous 12-hour shifts all week. Dave Mulvihill, Erie’s director of public works, told the Erie Times-News that a break in the snow on Thursday should allow drivers to “really push back” snow piled along city roadways to open them up even more.

Mulvihill said the plow drivers have gone “above and beyond” in doing their work. Plow drivers have stopped to free stranded motorists while they run their routes.

Residential mail delivery resumed Thursday after being canceled Tuesday and Wednesday. “Erie city and regional letter carriers will be out Thursday attempting to deliver where safe and passable,” the Erie Times-News reported.

“What we are seeing is, the side roads are still problematic due to cars buried along the sides and plows are unable to get down to plow,” said Tad Kelley, western Pennsylvania spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service. “Many of the patrons did clear paths for the letter carriers. We will be attempting full delivery today,” he added.

Tips on How to Shovel Dangerous Heavy Snow

Shoveling heavy snow is dangerous, especially for people who have back, leg or heart problems. Here are some tips on removing snow without injuring yourself adapted from The Spruce, a home improvement website.

Consider doing the following before you even step outside:

  1. Stretch your muscles to prevent injury.
  2. Dress in layers to stay warm.
  3. Take frequent breaks. Continuous snow shoveling can be hazardous to the health of those in not-such-great shape.
  4. "Wax" your shovel blade to make it slippery and prevent the snow from sticking to it.

The best way to shovel, in general, is to break up the job into smaller patches and rest between each patch.

Clear your driveway first in stages, rather than in one fell swoop. If the snowstorm has already ended, divide the workload into sections.

If it’s still snowing, do some initial shoveling and then go back to finish after the storm ends. While going back to finish shoveling might mean spending more time overall, you’ll find it easier and lessen your chances of injury than trying to remove large mounds of heavy snow.

By clearing a path to your vehicle, you avoid packing down the snow on your way. Packed snow is tougher to shovel than unpacked snow. So take care of it, right from the get-go.

Don't fuss too much about shoveling where your driveway meets the street. When the snowplows go by, they'll push more snow into the space. Save this area until you're ready to drive out, but don’t wait until the snow freezes. Frozen snow is doubly hard to remove.

Remember, each shovelful puts extra strain on your body. Unless you're in great shape and treating the project as an opportunity for a workout, aim to conserve your movements.

And if some well-intentioned teens stop by with an offer to clear your driveway for a reasonable sum, take them up on their offer. It’s a good way to avoid a trip to the emergency room.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management Degree at American Military University.

David Hubler David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, "The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever."