October 02, 2019

WINTER 2019-2020: City Highlights Snow Polices, Messages To Public

The Lacrosse Street Walmart during the October 3-5, 2013 blizzard. The Lacrosse Street Walmart during the October 3-5, 2013 blizzard.


RAPID CITY--Mother Nature has already provided a couple of doses of winter at the Rapid City area, with snow events and bitterly cold temperatures. During the winter, questions arise as to the City's guidelines on sidewalk snow removal, or the priorities given to snow removal on city streets.  Below is the City's snow removal policies, guidelines andsafety messages to the public. 

            We hope the information is useful to you in preparing storm-related stories.

EMERGENCY MESSAGES:  The public is encouraged to sign up to receive 'Public Warning Messages' which will provide the public with critical information quickly in a variety of situations including life-threatening, rapid-developing, severe weather warnings (such as a tornado or flash flood), evacuation notices, hazardous chemical leaks, civil disturbance activity and more.  Sign up at www.pennco.org/pubwarnmsg .

            For the closure of City offices or alerts regarding downtown snow removal, the City will contact local media utilizing the telephone numbers and processes each media outlet has provided.  In addition, 211 Public Impact Text Alerts will be used for 'No Travel Advisory' messages to the public.  Text 'AlertRC' to 85511.  Visit http://www.pennco.org/pubimpact for more information.  No travel advisories in the county will be issued by the Pennington County Sheriff's Department.  Text'AlertPC' to 85511 for text alerts on public impact messages and special weather/travel alerts in the county.

            The City's Facebook page, Twitter account and City's Website Homepage will be updated with information as quickly as possible.  Travel advisories and other immediate information will come to you from the Rapid City Police Department, Rapid City Fire Department, Rapid City Regional Airport, Pennington County Emergency Management, Rapid City Area Schools, State Department of Transportation and National Weather Service, among others.  The City will work to reiterate these messages as they become available.

DOWNTOWN SNOW ALERT:  The City's snow removal policy includes a downtown snow alert system.  The snow alert system applies to removal of snow in the downtown core area during a declared snow alert.  The downtown snow removal core area is defined as both sides of the street on Ninth Street to the west, Fifth Street to the east, Omaha Street to the north and Kansas City Street to the south.  In addition, the City's Public Works Director can declare a Snow Removal Alert in the downtown core area for snow to be cleared for the safe and orderly flow of  traffic for the safety, health and welfare of the general public.

            When a Snow Removal Alert has been declared, any vehicle or trailer parked in the core area from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. may be removed by the police department and the vehicle's owner or operator assessed a fine of $25 and the charges for towing and storage of the vehicle.  If the fine is not paid within 72 hours, the fine will be increased to $35.

            If a Downtown Snow Alert is declared, the City will communicate the message with traditional media sources as well as utilizing the City's social media platform.  The public can also access the status of snow alerts by texting 'RCSnow' to 85511.

SNOW REMOVAL POLICY (STREETS):  The goal is to provide the motorist with the safest driving surface possible, in an efficient and economical manner, with the resources available.  Initial service of streets during a snow/ice incident will be applications of sand, salt, liquid de-icer or a combination of these products.  To reduce the amount of material used, flat level streets are not treated unless a special situation should exist.  Other accepted chemicals may be used for maximum effectiveness.

            Streets will be treated in the following order of priority:

            *All arterial and emergency routes along with those streets having steep grades or other hazardous geometry and major intersections.  Examples include Fifth Street to Rapid City Regional Hospital, Omaha Street, Mount Rushmore Road, Fairmont Boulevard, Saint Patrick Street, Jackson Boulevard, Sheridan Lake Road, Canyon Lake Drive.

            *Street Department officials communicate closely with school officials regarding school closure decisions and closure decisions can influence priority decisions for snow removal.

                *Collector and sub-collector streets and school routes. (Examples include: Elm Street from Fairmont to Minnesota; Parkview from Fairmont to Minnesota; West Boulevard from St. Joseph Street to Flormann Street)

            *Residential streets.

SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL (SIDEWALKS):  Per City Ordinance 12.12.090, it is the duty of the homeowner to keep the sidewalk(s) fronting or abutting a lot, parcel or plot of ground free from snow and ice at all times.  When it is impossible to take the snow and ice from the walk by reason of it being frozen to the sidewalk, the owner or occupant shall sprinkle or spread suitable material to prevent the walk from becoming slippery and dangerous to travel.  Sidewalks that are not kept free from snow and ice are declared a nuisance, and upon the failure, neglect or refusal to comply, the owner or occupant may be held in violation.  If the snow and ice is not removed within 24 hours, the City can have the area cleared of snow and ice with the costs assessed to the property.

            **People who experience difficulties shoveling or maintaining their sidewalks during the winter due to a disability, age, etc. are advised to make preparations before the winter season to line up assistance for such tasks.

CITY PLOWING POLICY:  Snow plowing incidents will be divided into three levels of service.  The service level will be determined by the Director of Public Works or his designee.

            *Level A Response (approximately 2-4 inches of snow depth): This  level of service will include the plowing of all arterial streets, emergency routes, streets with steep grades and other hazardous geometry, collector streets and major intersections.  May include downtown snow removal.

            *Level B Response (approximately 4-6 inches of snow depth):  Sub-collector streets and some high traffic residential streets will be plowed in addition to those streets covered in 'Level A Response'.  Included in this service will be downtown snow removal.  Some work may be contracted with the private sector.

            *Level C Response (greater than 6 inches of snow depth):  All remaining Rapid City streets.  Contractors will be hired so this service may be completed in the shortest period of time possible.

            Driveway entrances will not be opened by City crews under routine plowing operations.  City policy will be to remove snow from sidewalks on public bridges and from curb side sidewalks located on streets with four or more traffic lanes, on a predominantly residential street and on a school pedestrian route.  This work will only be done after street plowing operations have been completed.

            City crews plow streets from curb to curb to maintain surface drainage.


            *The City Streets Department has over 50 pieces of equipment related to snow removal.  Combined with resources from the City's Parks Department, City Landfill and Rapid City Regional Airports, there are over 100 pieces of equipment that can be utilized at various City properties during a particular snow event.

            *The City is divided into 19 different snow routes.

            *There are over 400 miles of streets in Rapid City.  Most of the streets are multi-lane with two, three and four-lanes of traffic.  Stretching out the lanes, City crews can work 1500 lane miles during a storm event.   During a particular snow event, City crews can travel the distance from Rapid City to Atlanta or farther than the road distance from Rapid City to Los Angeles.

            *No snow 'event' is the same.  Each event brings its own unique weather characteristics.  City officials begin preparing for each snow event days in advance. 

            *Crews keep equipment maintained well in advance of the winter season.  Chemical compound is purchased months in advance.

            Here are important messages from:

            *RAPID CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Fire Chief Rod Seals asks the following from residents and visitors of Rapid City and the surrounding area:  When advisories are issued, like “no travel advised”, please heed the warning for your own safety and of those that count on you.  If you don’t need to go out, please don’t.  If you must travel, be prepared.  A winter travel kit in your vehicle can come in handy even if you are traveling in and around the City.  (extra clothing, water, blankets, food, shovel, ice scraper, phone charger, etc).  Maintain your vehicle for winter travel.  (tires, wipers, battery, antifreeze, etc.)

            *RAPID CITY REGIONAL AIRPORT: If the airport is closed, personnel will alert the media and public through its website and social media. Airlines may sometimes cancel or delay flights based on conditions even if the airport and/or runway(s) are open so airport officials always recommend the public check with the specific airline regarding flight status.

            *PENNINGTON COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: You should carry a winter storm kit in your vehicle.  The kit should contain: sleeping bags or blankets, matches and candles, winter clothing, food, first-aid kit, pocket knife, flashlight and radio with extra batteries for each, a bag of sand and shovel, tire chains and tools, windshield scraper, battery jumper cables, and two coffee cans.  Small supplies can be kept in the coffee cans and when you are stranded, one can be used for personal sanitation needs and the other to burn the candles in for heat.  When burning a candle, leave a down-wind window slightly open for air circulation and ventilation.  Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen without the victim being aware of it until it's too late.

            *ANIMALS: Also don't forget to provide proper care for the animals in your care, minimizing time spent outdoors in winter conditions and making sure animals are kept in a warm shelter with water and food supplies.

Emergency Management - Build A Basic Kit

From Pennington County Emergency Management: A disaster supply or emergency kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You may not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

Emergency Kit Basics

  • · Water - one gallon per person, per day
  • · Nonperishable Food - 3 day supply, canned goods, energy bars, per person
  • · Flashlight - and extra batteries
  • · Radio - battery-powered, have extra batteries on hand
  • · First Aid Kit - bandages, antiseptic, ointment, gloves, gauze
  • · Tools - pliers, whistle - to signal for help, can opener for canned goods
  • · Hygiene Basics - toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, garbage for sanitation
  • · Documents - copies of social security cards, insurance info, prescription lists, phone numbers
  • · Clothes - one set for each person, include sturdy shoes
  • · Money - cash or traveler’s checks

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.

Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days, a week, or longer. Most items are inexpensive, many can already be found in your home. Any one of them could save your life. Download a printable version to use as a checklist.  Detailed Kit List

After you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for childrenseniorsspecific needs or pets.

More preparedness tips

  • · A battery powered NOAA Weather radiowill alert you with a loud wail of an impending storm. This wail wakes most people if they are sleeping.
  • · If you take medications, maintain an adequate supply and keep a list of prescriptions you take in your purse or wallet.
  • · A cotton bandana is a handy item to have. It can be used as a face mask, a washcloth and many other things.
  • · Include an extra set of sturdy shoes.
  • · Have you ever tried to open a can of food without a can opener? It can be done, but more than likely results in some sort of cut.
  • · A blanket is a good idea. Often disasters involve water, snow, or mud.
  • · Avoid over-packing your kit, unless you have a spare Winnebago. A kit that is too large or too heavy is many times just as useless as no kit at all.
  • · Try out your kit! Take it camping, use it often, and replace items as they are used.
  • · As you prepare, tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities.

 pdfSnow Plow Route Map (1.04 MB)

 pdfSnow Exchange Map (883 KB)

 pdfDowntown Snow Removal Map (104 KB)


Thank you,

Darrell W. Shoemaker | Communications Coordinator

T: 605.721.6686 | M: 605.939.8551

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W: www.rcgov.org

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