Monitor and respond

Another key to the city's quick mobilization in response to storms is the Emergency Operations Center, which, depending on the severity of the conditions, can open in three phases: limited, moderate and full.

Flemion said most instances only require a limited or moderate opening, but for Snowmaggeddon, the EOC was open in full for four days.

"The purpose of the EOC is to provide support for Public Works," Flemion said. "In a snow emergency, the Department of Public Works is the primary responder, and it is the job of the EOC to provide them logistics they need to accomplish their mission."

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One tool the city and the EOC uses is a subscription to a weather service, which provides real-time updates on developing winter storms.

During the winter, Ferree said Public Works has a crew of 12 on standby 24 hours a day and seven days a week in case a storm hits.

Stocked with 400 tons of salt, 1,000 pounds of calcium chloride and lots of sand, Ferree and Public Works are prepared for the elements.

In extreme cases like 2010, Ferree said Public Works recruits personnel from other departments, like Parks and Recreation, to help in snow removal.

Flemion said although the added equipment will make a difference in preparations, blizzard conditions always challenge Public Works.

"Even with these changes, the resources of the city will no doubt be strained during blizzard conditions," Flemion said. "During blizzards, the staff are operating under very strenuous and tiring conditions, and the equipment used takes a beating."