Forecasters say Iowa will again see unseasonably warm weather today with highs in the 40’s and 50’s statewide. For some areas, that’s 25-degrees warmer than normal. Iowans who love downhill skiing or snowmobiling are finding other ways to stay active, but this mostly-snow-free winter is a big hassle for people who make a living clearing driveways and sidewalks.
Pat Duax says no snow means no money. “2011 as a whole was the worst snow removal year I’ve ever had,” Duax says. “I’ve been doing it since I was 18, I’m 35 now. This kind of year puts a lot of small guys out of business. A lot. They’re gonna’ have to get jobs. I mean, that’s the bottom line.”
Duax runs Duax Snow Removal and Lawn Care in Indianola. He says he can’t pay the subcontractors he typically employs, often as early as October or November. “I’ve got 10 guys with trucks that have worked for me for years, that count on this, you know, count on me keeping them busy,” he says. “They’re all sitting doing nothing, just like I am. And I can do nothing about it.”
For many Iowa cities, however, there have been some no-snow savings. They don’t need to restock salt or sand or pay crews overtime to tackle the roads. Some plow operators make $35 an hour.
A heavy snowstorm can cost cities like West Des Moines $130,000 a pop