No Business Like Snow Business
Snow removal companies finally getting work this winter
ANCHORAGE - After weeks of sporadic, spring-like weather, Anchorage is now covered in a soft layer of powder. For those that depend on snow for a way of life, it's a welcome sight.
Driver Levi Westharkness said this year doesn't even compare to last year. He said the best and worst parts are the long workdays that have sometimes stretched to 20 hours. "I like work, I like to get paid." he said as he's clears the back the Fred Meyer parking lot off Abbott. When he's not working, he's on call, watching the weather.
Once the snow hits though, Thoms compared the snow removal to art. "It's kind of like an orchestra. Everything starts out in a wave." First, it's the sidewalk crew clearing near buildings. They call this "detailing." They use shovels and sweepers. "Cymbals coming in would be like the plow trucks, coming shortly after them." Then it's the bass – low rumbling loaders. Then comes the shrill staccato of the sander trucks.
While plowing a parking lot, two trucks lined up so that the second truck picked up the windrow from the first. The front-end loader with a specially designed bucket scraped the parking lot behind them. All vehicles work in a circle, which reduces waste. "Timing is really critical to keep everybody organized," Thoms said.
This time last year, Anchorage had 103 inches of snowfall. Compare that to this year's relatively measly 43 inches. But today was a good day. Westharkness crossed his fingers, hoping for a long day. It's about 4 o'clock, but often drivers and operators will start at 8 p.m. and work all night.
Thoms said workers are happy after coming off a shift, "because they got to fulfill something in the end." Until the snow stops, this orchestra will be playing all night.