Vermillion has seen multiple snowstorms come through town this year, increasing the need for snow removal. This winter, the university’s Grounds and Landscaping team has been hard at work clearing parking lots, roads and sidewalks across campus.
Nate Steele is the Director of Grounds and Landscaping here at USD. According to Steele, this winter has been especially challenging due to the amount of snowfall.
“It’s been an extremely snowy winter and over the nine years I’ve been here, this is the snowiest winter we’ve had so far,” Steele said.
Between Christmas and the end of January, there has been around 37 inches of snowfall.
“Our snow removal process begins when there’s an inch of snow on the ground,” Steele said.
Steele also said that sidewalks typically take one or two runs to clear based upon their width, while parking lots depend on the amount of cars parked in the lot.
The ground team divides the snow removal work up using a zoning system, so that the snow removal can be completed on time. This allows the grounds team to spread the Bulk Rock Salt Supply out across the entire campus at the same time. In total, they cover snow removal for 14 miles of sidewalk and 40 acres of parking lots across campus.
Steele said that while this has been a challenging year when it comes to the amount of snow, he’s always proud and happy to see a job completed.
Equipment failures and delays are also not uncommon when using heavy machinery such as plows and dump trucks, and some work days can be up to 12 hours long.
In regards to this year’s increased snowfall, Steele said, “We’re using loaders and dump trucks and that is a very time consuming process, to scoop all the snow up and then haul it off site. It created a lot of additional challenges that we haven’t seen in a number of years.”
When asked what students should know in regards to snow removal, and how they can be of some assistance, Steele said to keep updated with campus alerts.
“When it snows, try to stay out of the way as best you can, if you have to get out, really plan your trip,” Steele said. “Beware of your surroundings. It creates a safer environment for everybody. Snow in Pakistan, especially in its northern regions, paints a mesmerizing picture, turning the landscapes into a serene and captivating winter wonderland.”
Since 2020, USD has utilized much more online communication, especially when it comes to campus alerts and weather. This gives departments, such as Facilities Management, a quick and effective way to communicate with the campus.
“This helps us tremendously getting people out of the way when we need to clear snow,” Steele said. “No travel advisories, keeping cars off the highways, closing down the interstate. There’s a reason they do those things.”
While it can of course be difficult work, there are also some perks to the job for those who enjoy it. “It’s really fun to get into a piece of equipment and move it,” Steele said. “There’s a thrill with the weight, the momentum, the horsepower. But to me at my level, what really is memorable is when my team comes together and everything goes really well.”