Weather Procedures


Snow Policy


When does Ely start plowing roads?

Snow Plowing and/or ice control operations shall commence under the direction of the Public Works Director and City Administrator.  In his absence, the Director’s designated representative will confer with the Director or City Administrator to determine when and where operations will begin in accordance with the following criteria:

  1. Snow accumulation of 2-inches or more;
  2. Drifting of snow that causes problems for travel;
  3. Icy conditions which seriously affect travel; and,
  4. Time of snowfall in relationship to heavy use of streets (i.e. weekday a.m. and p.m. commuter periods).

Snow and ice control operations are expensive and involve the use of limited personnel and equipment.  Consequently snowplowing operations will not generally be conducted for snowfall of less than 1 inch.


What is the process of snow removal?

Snow will be plowed in a manner so as to provide access as soon as possible and to minimize any traffic obstructions.  The center of the roadway will be plowed first.  The snow shall then be pushed from left to right.  The discharge shall go onto the boulevard area of the right-of-way.  Streets and cul-de-sacs are initially plowed with a single pass to open all routes as soon as possible.  It is the Public Works Department’s goal to have the entire street system cleaned after a “typical” snowfall in approximately 24 hours.  Depending on snowfall conditions and duration of the storm, streets will not always immediately be able to be completely cleared of snow.


Why would the city stop plowing during a storm?

Generally, operations will continue until all routes are passable.  Widening and cleanup operations may continue immediately or on the following work day depending on conditions and circumstances.  Safety of the plow operators and the public is important.  Therefore, snowplowing/removal operations may be terminated after 10-12 hours to allow personnel adequate time for rest.  There may be instances where this is not possible depending on storm conditions and other circumstances.  Operations may also be suspended during periods of limited visibility, significant winds or severe cold so as to not jeopardize the safety of city employees and equipment.  Any decision to suspend operations shall be made by the Public Works Director and City Administrator based on the conditions of the storm.  The City will still provide access for emergency fire, police and medical services on an “as-needed” basis during a major snow or ice storm.


Does Ely use salt and sand?

The City is concerned about the effect of salt and sand on the environment and will limit its use for that reason.  Therefore it is the policy of the City to utilize salt and sand at locations where there are hazardous or slippery conditions.  This provides for traction but is not intended to provide bare pavement during winter conditions.  The City will not be responsible for damage to grass caused by salt and sand and therefore will not make repairs or compensate residents for salt and sand damage to turf areas in the right-of-way.


What happens if property is damaged during snow removal?

Snow plowing and ice control operations can cause property damage even under the best of circumstances and care on the part of the operators.  The major types of damage are to improvements in the City right-of-way, which extends approximately 10’ to 15’ beyond the curb location.  The intent of the right-of-way is to provide room for snow storage, utilities, sidewalks and other city uses.  However, certain private improvements such as mailboxes, landscaping and other private installations are located within this area.

Mailboxes—Mailboxes should be constructed sturdily enough to withstand snow rolling off a plow. While the installation of mailboxes on the city right-of-way is permitted, the mailbox owner assumes all risk of damage except when a mailbox is damaged through contact by a plow blade, or other piece of equipment.  If a mailbox is damaged due to direct contact by snow plowing equipment, the City, at its option, will repair or replace the mailbox at a cost not to exceed $25.00. Damage resulting from snow rolling off a plow or wing is the responsibility of the resident.

Landscaping— Property owners should assume all risk of damage for landscaping, including nursery and inanimate materials that are installed or encroach on City right-of-way. The City assumes no responsibility for damage incurred to these non-permitted elements as a result of snow plowing and ice control activities with the exception that lawns that are scraped or gouged by City equipment that equals 8 inches wide, 2 inches deep, and 18 inches long will be repaired by top dressing and seeding the following spring.  In addition, inanimate materials such as boulders, timbers, etc. are a hazard and can cause damage to plow equipment.

Other Private Installations— The City will assume no responsibility for underground lawn sprinkling systems, exterior lighting systems, underground electronic dog fences or any other non-permitted features privately installed in City right-of-way.


Where is the snow stored?

Ongoing snow and ice control efforts require the use of the entire City right-of-way and easement areas for storage of plowed snow.  Depending on the volume of snow, available storage within the right-of way can become limited and/or create sight obstructions.  Since it is financially impossible and impractical to remove snow from all boulevards and intersection corners, the City, at the Public Works Director’s direction will   remove snow banks along the right-of-way.  This operation results in snow being pushed father back onto the right-of-way area and some instances hauled away.


Why is there snow piled in front of my driveway?

One of the most frequent and most irritable problems in removal of snow from the public streets is the snow deposited in driveways during plowing operations.  Snow that accumulates on the plow blade has no place to go but in the driveway.  Snowplow operators make every attempt to minimize the amount of snow deposited in driveways, but the snow can still be significant.  Based on the priorities and staffing level, City personnel do not provide driveway cleaning.  Possible exceptions are at the discretion of the Public Works Director for emergency situations.


Who clears snow in front of my mail box?

Snowplow operators make every effort to remove snow as close to the curb line as practical and to provide access to mailboxes for the Postal Department.  However, it is not possible to provide perfect conditions and minimize the damage to mailboxes with the size and type of equipment the City operates.  Therefore, the final cleaning adjacent to mailboxes is the responsibility of each resident.


Who should I talk to if I have a question or complaint?

Complaints regarding snow and ice removal or damage will be taken during normal working hours and handled in accordance with the City’s complaint procedures.  Complaints involving access to property or problems requiring immediate attention will be handled on a priority basis.  Response time should not exceed twenty-four (24) hours for any complaint.  It should be understood that complaint responses are to ensure that the provisions of this policy have been fulfilled and that all residents of the City have been treated uniformly.


When clearing my property, where do I put the snow?

Snow from a private driveway, business driveway, or parking lot may not be placed on a City street or on designated street parking. Commercial property owners in the Central Business District may remove this snow from the sidewalks surrounding their property and place this snow into the City Street for removal. There shall be no piles of snow in parking areas of the business district. The Businesses may push the snow to the nearest corner, or push the snow level with the snow in the Streets. Snow from a private driveway or business must be piled in such a way that a safety hazard is not created or that the view or traveling path of the public is not obstructed.


City equipment will not be used to remove piled snow or push snow away from private property or businesses. Snow will only be removed from City facilities. Using City equipment to clear snow from private property is forbidden unless it is necessary to allow emergency vehicles access to the private property for ambulance, fire or police calls.


What is a snow emergency and when is it declared?

A snow emergency is normally defined as a measurable snow of 2 inches or more. However, any amount of snow combined with ice, rain, and/or wind can also require a snow emergency to be declared. This will be communicated to the public through a port to the local news stations on the internet and by public announcement on Ely Website. In the event a snow emergency is declared, all parked vehicles on a City street must be removed from City streets for that specified period of time. During a snow removal emergency, all restricted parking areas will remain in effect.


Hazardous Weather

Please check various local TV and radio stations and other media for weather warnings and advisories; hazardous weather watches and warnings, notices, cancellations, forecasts, warnings and advisories regarding storms and severe weather.  Here are links to the Cedar Rapids area media outlets and TV stations: KCRG TVKGAN TVKWWL TV, and the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Click here for the most recent weather forecast for Ely from the National Weather Service.


Emergency Sirens & Severe Weather


  • Tornado Warning issued by the National Weather Service and/or
  • Tornado or funnel cloud reported by a trained spotter

Severe Thunderstorms:

  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning issued by the National Weather Service or report received from a trained spotter that includes:
  • Wind 70 mph or greater, or golf ball sized hail or larger


In the event of a severe weather warning being issued, as listed above, Ely’s Fire/Emergency sirens will sound for 3 continuous minutes, resounding for the duration of the threat (every 5-10 minuets). When heard, seek shelter immediately. Once safely inside, either in a windowless room in your basement or if you do not have a basement, the inner most room of the lowest level of your house, tune to local broadcast media (radio, TV, etc.) for additional information. Please remain indoors and monitor local media until the warning has been lifted and the severe weather no longer poses a threat. There will be no “all clear” signal from outdoor warning sirens.

Receive alerts for severe weather in Linn County



Outdoor warning sirens will be tested the first Wednesday of each month at 8:45 a.m. If a severe weather watch or warning is in effect for Linn County prior to 8:45 a.m. on a scheduled test day, the sirens will not be tested that day. Outdoor warning siren tests will resume on the next scheduled monthly date.