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post #1 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
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When to Blow

Probably an oft asked question, but here's what's coming.

Snow starting about 5AM tomorrow morning. It will start accumulating immediately as the ground and pavement temperatures will be well below freezing. Snow will continue at the rate varying from .5" to 1" an hour, and will end around 3PM. Estimate about 6" to 7" of snow at that time.

When the snow stops the rain begins, sleet and freezing rain to start. Temperature will be a little above freezing. The rain is supposed to continue overnight into the morning hours (4AM or so) on Thursday.

My first inclination is to start blowing snow just before the change over to rain/sleet/freezing rain. But, since the temperature is to rise slightly above freezing I'm thinking maybe the almost 12 hours of rain we're to get might clear off most of the snow. But, I'm also thinking that maybe the sleet/freezing rain/rain will turn it into a very difficult and sloppy mess to get rid of. Temperature on Thursday may eventually get to 50 with cloudy to mostly cloudy skies in the afternoon.

What would you do?


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post #2 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 08:47 AM
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Start clearing just before, at the turn, or slightly after over to rain/sleet. Don't wait.
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 09:03 AM
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Remove as much snow as possible just before the change to rain. We're supposed to get the same stuff here in South central Pa.

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post #4 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 09:23 AM
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I'd get out there just before the rain.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 09:57 AM
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What you are describing is what often happens here in South Coastal Massachusetts. Starts out as snow, changes to sleet, maybe some freezing rain mixed in, and then finally rain. Left to itself, it makes a big, heavy, sloppy mess to clean up.

Like so many have already advised, I too would recommend the removal of the snow just prior to the changeover. You don't want the snow to become saturated with rainwater because of the decreased throwing distance, not to mention more wear and tear on the machine. (And who the heck wants to work out in the cold rain? ). Not only that, but often there is a wind direction shift right after the precipitation stops, and cold air sweeps back into the area. If that slushy mess freezes up, you've got a real mess on your hands.

The trick however is knowing when the optimum time is to get out there.....

For that, I have used a local TV station's website that uses Doppler radar. Not only can you see the speed of progress of the approaching rain/snow line, so you can estimate when it will get to you, but you can see the actual changeover pretty precisely from the comfort of your computer. The one I use has a delay of only about 5 minutes. That's certainly close enough.

This strategy is what works best around here, since it's not only easier to remove the snow before it gets wet, but since almost every snowblower leaves a trace coating of residual snow, the timing insures that the rain that follows will wash that away. In other words, the storm continues but the job is already done!!!

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post #6 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 10:04 AM
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I can't pick that perfect change over point. So I will do it much sooner to reduce the bulk then try to choose the change over point and do it again. If I'm wrong, at least I've removed the majority of the snow so it's less a problem throwing the wet snow that is coming later, also in case I don't feel like going out later! The remainder is where a single stage paddle blower is helpful.

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post #7 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 11:27 AM
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I won't say this is 100% but I have to go counter to the majority here. Assuming you have a blower with enough oomph that can handle it full depth, I'd wait till it's all done. If not, blow it earlier on but before the snow has finished, leaving maybe a couple of inches. Let the rain come down and freeze on that then blow that. Hopefully it won't soak through to the pavement and a blower should move it once it's froze up.

The reason I say this is is similar to cleaning off your car. If you clean it all the snow off then let it rain on it, you have a nice ice cycle that can be a lot worse to clean. Do it to your walk and drive and now you have a skating rink to deal with. Let the rain freeze on top of the snow and most 2 stage blowers should be able to break through it and toss it out within reason.

Now if all you have is a single stage, get it off asap and stock up on deice as you'll likely need it before you're done.

The Searsasaurus has the power to chew through most everything I encounter. What it won't do is scrape ice off a driveway or sidewalk.

Thanks my opinion.
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post #8 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by HCBPH View Post
I won't say this is 100% but I have to go counter to the majority here. Assuming you have a blower with enough oomph that can handle it full depth, I'd wait till it's all done.
This is usually my approach as well. I have an easier time clearing an icy top layer, with a few inches of snow underneath. Let the 2-stage break through it, and you're left with just pavement.

If you clear right before the transition, you're kind of rolling the dice. If it stays above freezing, you're great. But if you get a layer of ice all over the driveway, now you have a real mess on your hands.

I think where it gets difficult is if it's only going to be like 2-3" of snow, then turn to rain. If the frozen layer extends down to the ground, you're in trouble.

For the storm last week, I cleared after most of the snow, and let the rain come down overnight. It was warm enough that the last bit of snow before the rain stayed slushy. But if it had dropped 10 degrees, I would have had a frozen slush layer on the driveway, and it would have been a mess.

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post #9 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 02:45 PM
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I agree to waiting also. We have had 2 of those dumps followed by rain/sleet mix. The 2 stage blower had very little trouble with it - the top layer was a bit crunchy but did fine. My neighbor took the other approach and then his driveway was ice and miserable. I couldn't get mine to get any traction to help him out.... he was stuck until it warmed up.

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post #10 of 13 Old 02-19-2019, 03:23 PM
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I'd go out shortly before the change to rain. Whatever is left after that should melt away by the time it's all done based on the weather you're describing. But if you leave too much, you'll just have a bunch of icy, slushy slop to deal with.
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