EXCLUSIVE: BP24 Speaks With DSNY on How it Prepares Behind-the-Scenes for Snowstorms

EXCLUSIVE: BP24 Speaks With DSNY on How it Prepares Behind-the-Scenes for Snowstorms

By Yehudit Garmaise

Last night, Brooklynites stayed safe and warm as the borough saw less than two inches of snow, but 2,000 of the Sanitation Department’s 10,000 workers stayed at work all night to watch weather forecasts, spread salt, and prepare to plow the streets, if necessary, Vincent Gragnani, the DSNY’s press secretary, told BoroPark24 in an exclusive interview this morning.

“New Yorkers may have forgotten how to handle snow this winter, but #NewYorksStrongest haven’t!” DSNY tweeted yesterday, as the agency geared up to clear the streets of what was the most snow the city has seen this winter. 

As New York City spans 306.2 square miles, local weather conditions often vary from borough to borough and district to district, explained Gragnani, who noted that DSNY only had to send out trucks last night to the Bronx, which was the only borough to get the two inches of snow that activates the DSNY to start clearing snow.

While DSNY continued to collect garbage according to its normal schedules, the agency had 2,000 plowable vehicles, 700 salt spreaders, 700 million pounds of salt, which is mixed with calcium chloride, and 50 new bike lane plows standing by: ready head out when necessary. 

To decide when to launch the city’s massive snow removal process, the Sanitation Department’s operations team carefully monitors “several weather forecasting services that send us frequent reports to ensure that we are prepared for snow, sleet, ice, or whatever comes our way,” Gragnani said.

In addition to the DSNY’s Operations Team’s work to closely monitor the city’s weather conditions, the employees at the Sanitation garages that are located in every city district, which are the same regions as community boards. 

When anticipating a snowstorm, every local garage sends its report of temperature, precipitation, and snow depth to Commissioner Jessica Tisch and the DSNY’s department chiefs every hour, so that they “have regular snapshots of conditions in every corner of the city to make decisions accordingly,” Gragnani said. “Depending on what we’re expecting, we may load and position salt spreaders and/or attach plows to our collection trucks in advance of winter weather.”

DSNY’s Operations Team, Gragnani explained, keeps in close touch with DSNY Commissioner Tisch and Garrett O'Reilly, DSNY’s Chief of Department, who make the final calls to decide which equipment to send out and when. 

When Commissioner Tisch “assigns salt spreaders where necessary,” then district-level employees decide exactly where to send salt spreaders and snowplows. 

During a snowstorm, while DSNY is busy issuing advisories, speak to the press, watching the weather, and clearing the streets, the city’s other agencies take care of their particular responsibilities.

For instance, the Department of Transportation (DOT) monitors and enforces alternate side parking and outdoor dining, and the Parks Department removes snow from parks’ properties and handles fallen trees.

The Emergency Management Department coordinates emergency responses. 

“Sanitation workers are well-trained to clear snow and ice from city streets and ensure the safety of all New Yorkers who need to use our roads,” Gragnani said. “We do ask that residents who can stay off our roads during a snowstorm please do: because fewer cars on the roads make it easier for us to do our jobs as we fight the snow.”

photo credit: NYC Department of Sanitation

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