Cross country skiers take advantage of Bend's big snow dump the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving.

Cross country skiers take advantage of Bend’s big snow dump the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving.

Amanda Peacher/OPB

Central Oregon cities got an unexpected snow dump last week. With major storms coming only once or twice a year, municipalities don’t always have enough resources to remove snow and ice from the streets. 

The pre-Thanksgiving snowfall and the freezing conditions that followed, challenged maintenance crews in Bend and Redmond. Some residents expressed frustration with the pace of snow and ice removal.

David Abbas, who directs Bend’s streets and operations department said the city has limited resources for plowing and de-icing.  

“Extra resources always help battle a storm like that, definitely,” said Abbas. “But where are those resources coming from, and those expenses? And are they being used for two or three weeks of a year, and sitting for nine months out of a year?”

Bend has just 16 plows and about 30 drivers to remove snow and ice from roads. After Tuesday’s storm, snow turned to ice in freezing conditions. Abbas explained that once snow and slush freezes over, the snow plows are no longer useful. The ice removal requires a machine called a grader. The city of Bend owns two such machines for winter conditions.

Like most communities in Oregon, Bend does not use salt to melt roadway ice, for environmental reasons.

“We have the Deschutes River running right through town, and the environment is important to our community,” said Abbas.