Winter Weather Operations - Salting and Snow Removal
When it snows, 200 employees with 175 pieces of equipment spring into action. Here's a snapshot of the County's snow response plan:
- When snow begins to cover roads, salt crews spread salt on all main County roads and emergency routes.
- When snow accumulates to three inches, plowing and salting crews continue to clear all main County roads and emergency routes.
- Once the snow stops, crews begin plowing neighborhood roads.
- Crews complete plow routes and spread abrasives on hills, at intersections and on roads around schools.
Check below for answers to your snow plowing questions.
- Who plows Montgomery County streets?
- If the County doesn't plow my street, how do I find out who does?
- Who clears State highways, such as I-270?
- Who else clears roads and parking lots?
- How soon does the County start plowing?
- What happens if there are less than 3 inches of snow on the streets?
- What happens if there is 3 or more inches of snow on the roads?
- What happens when the snowfall ends?
- Will the snow plow ever completely clear my residential street down to bare pavement?
- How long will it take to finish plowing all the streets?
- How do I check the status of County snow removal efforts?
- How do I report that the snow plows missed my street?
- What is a snow emergency route?
- If a snow emergency is declared, what restrictions are implemented?
- What is a major County road?
- What is a primary neighborhood street?
- What is a neighborhood street?
- What resources does the County have to remove snow?
- Whom do I contact in an emergency?
- What if I need help, but it's not an emergency?
- Who clears sidewalks of snow?
- Snow plow damage? Snow Removal Claims Guidelines
- What can I do about snow plows that block my driveway with snow?
Who plows Montgomery County streets? Top
There are more than 5,000 lane miles of roads that Montgomery County Department of Transportation crews clear. including more than 4,000 lane miles of neighborhood roads and nearly 1,000 lane miles of emergency routes, primary roads (arterial roads connecting subdivisions or business districts) and secondary roads (main collector streets through subdivisions).
If the County doesn't plow my street, how do I find out who does? Top
Municipalities, such as Rockville, Gaithersburg, Takoma Park, or the smaller jurisdictions in the County, clear their own streets. (See who clears the streets in your jurisdiction)
Who clears State highways, such as I-270? Top
The Maryland State Highway Administration clears all numbered routes in Montgomery County such as Georgia Avenue (Maryland Route 97) or Rockville Pike (Maryland Route 355). Check the State website at http://www.sha.state.md.us/ for information about snow removal status.
Who else clears roads and parking lots? Top
Montgomery County Public Schools, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Metro, homeowners associations, commercial property owners, and others clear snow from their properties.
How soon does the County start plowing? Top
Before the snow falls, emergency and major roadways are pretreated with salt brine, a solution of salt and water. Salt brine prevents ice and frost from forming, makes snow removal easier and reduces the amount of salt needed to treat pavement after the snowfall.
During the snowstorm, plowing begins when there is three inches of snow on the streets. To view a chart detailing the County's snow response plan see our "Winter Weather Operations Response Plan" page.
What happens if there are less than 3 inches of snow on the streets? Top
Bridges, elevated roadways, major County roads and primary neighborhood streets are salted.
What happens if there is 3 or more inches of snow on the roads? Top
All major County roads and primary neighborhood streets are continuously plowed, salted, and kept clear to bare pavement while it's snowing. This ensures that, in case of an emergency, every County resident is within one-half mile of a cleared road. Neighborhood streets are not plowed until the snow ends.
What happens when the snowfall ends? Top
Crews ensure all major County roads and primary neighborhood streets are cleared to bare pavement to provide emergency access to neighborhoods. Once major and primary neighborhood streets are clear, only then are residential streets plowed with at least one pass and spot sanded when necessary. Residential streets are made passable, but are not cleared to bare pavement. Crews also spread abrasives on hills, intersections on residential streets, and on roads around schools and clear storm drains.
Will the snow plow ever completely clear my residential street down to bare pavement? Top
The goal is to make residential streets passable -- not to clear them to bare pavement.
How long will it take to finish plowing all the streets? Top
Crews work continuously around the clock until all 5,000 lane miles of County-maintained streets are passable. The type of snow (wet or powdery), pavement temperature, ambient air temperature and wind conditions affect how quickly snow can be removed. Here are some general guidelines:
- It takes about 16 hours following the end of a three-inch snowfall to plow and/or treat every County road once
- After a 10-inch snowfall, you can expect major and primary County roads to be cleared within 24 to 36 hours. At that time, one pass should have been made through neighborhood streets.
- After a 15-inch snowfall, crews should complete snow plowing in about 35 to 40 hours.
After a 24-inch snowfall, crews should complete the work in about 48 to 60 hours.
How do I check the status of County snow removal efforts? Top
Check the County's web site for a map that shows the status of plow operations. Or, call 311.
How do I report that the snow plows missed my street? Top
Check the snow plow map to see if it indicates plowing has been completed in your neighborhood. If it does and you believe your street has been missed, report it here. Or, call 311.
What is a snow emergency route? Top
Prominent red and white signs designate certain roads as snow emergency routes that are kept clear throughout storms for police, fire, and other emergency vehicles. Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have snow emergency routes and, by listening to news broadcasts, you can find out when a snow emergency plan has been declared. Note that the State and County do not always declare snow emergencies at the same time.
If a snow emergency is declared, what restrictions are implemented? Top
When the State or County designates a snow emergency, it's illegal to drive without snow tires, mud/snow radials or chains or park on snow emergency routes.
What is a major County road? Top
Major arterial roads connecting subdivisions or business districts, such as Democracy Boulevard or Shady Grove Road.
What is a primary neighborhood street? Top
Main collector streets through subdivisions, such as Lamberton Drive, Dufief Drive, and Flower Hill Way.
What is a neighborhood street? Top
All other side streets that are County maintained.
What resources does the County have to remove snow? Top
A workforce of 200 employees with 175 pieces of snow removal equipment and 180 contractors with 225 pieces of equipment work around the clock until all County-maintained streets are passable. More resources may be called in for exceptional storms.
Whom do I contact in an emergency? Top
Call the Police and Fire Departments at 911 only in life threatening emergencies or for emergency Fire and Rescue services. The Police and Fire Departments will contact the Highway Services Division if an emergency vehicle needs assistance to maneuver on a snow or ice-covered street.
What if I need help, but it's not an emergency? Top
Call 311 or the Police Non-Emergency Number at 301-279-8000.
Who clears sidewalks of snow? Top
Property owners are responsible for clearing their public sidewalks, driveways and entrances within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm. All residents are strongly encouraged to be good neighbors by clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes, as well as assisting those who may not be physically able to do so.
Snow Plow Damage. How do I file a Property Damage Claim? Top
Please click on link to Snow Removal Claims Guidelines
What can I do about snow plows that block my driveway with snow? Top
We recommend parking your car in the driveway, if you have one. Crews can do a much better job clearing your street of snow without maneuvering around parked vehicles. When shoveling, stand facing the street and shovel snow to the right into the yard instead of into the street. This helps reduce the amount of snow the plow may re-deposit across driveway entrances.
For any MCDOT service request or complaint, call 311
When dialing outside of the county, call 240-777-0311 or submit via their website.
For website comments or to report website problems or broken links, please email us.
This email address does not handle service requests or complaints.
Highway Services · Montgomery County Department of Transportation
Questions/Comments · Inside Montgomery County dial 311 · TTY: 240-773-3556
Outside Montgomery County dial 240-777-0311