Indy snow plows take to the roads

Indianapolis Department of Public Works snow plows hit the streets Oct. 10, 2017, for some practice before winter weather arrives. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Department of Public Works crews had a snow day Tuesday, but not in the traditional sense.

Several dozen drivers hit the roads for their annual Mock Snow Fight.

“Today and tomorrow’s mock snow fight is just to get our crews readjusted to driving with blades and salt beds,” said Warren Stokes, spokesperson for the Department of Public Works. “There won’t be any salt laid down and the blades won’t be down either, but it’s just to to get everyone used to running the routes. We know there’s lot of ongoing construction, so it helps out drivers.”

The last few years Indianapolis has had mild winters, well under the 26-inch snowfall average. The last big snowy year was 2014, where Indy saw 52 inches of snow. This year, as in all others, the department’s crews picked a fall morning, woke up early, picked up their routes and climbed into their cabs.

“We usually get snow during the winter months, so toward the end of November, but we’re ready at any time to start going out there and taking care of the roads,” Stokes said.

Storm Track 8 meteorologists say the earliest Indianapolis has seen snow is Oct. 18. That was back in 1989, where the city saw 9 inches. Stokes said the plow drivers want to be as prepared as possible.

“Drivers have different experience levels, maybe someone who’s been working on roads for three years, all the way to someone who’s been working for 30 years. They’re out there right now getting used to those routes,” he said.

The city’s trucks carry about 6 tons of salt each, sourced from a yearly supply of 21,000 tons. The salt is stored in big barns across the city with easy access to the trucks. With an average of 19 snow days in Indianapolis, Stokes said it’ll be enough.

“Right now, we’re at full capacity,” he said. “When that snow drops or those winter weather conditions drop, we’ll be ready for it.”

The drivers themselves said they’re ready to go but not necessarily eager for the snow to hit.

“Yeah, we’re hoping it’s not too soon,” Stokes said.