Level I snow emergency effective at 1 p.m. Tuesday

Street crews work on clearing the steep drop on 4-J road Tuesday morning. The Streets Department has deployed 13 trucks today to make roads drivable and to prepare for more expected snow tonight. (RJ Morgan/County 17)

The City of Gillette has declared a Level I Snow Emergency as crews keep up with significant snowfall that came earlier than expected and another six to twelve inches predicted overnight.

The snow emergency goes into effect at 1 p.m., Oct. 12, and requires residents to move vehicles parked along designated snow removal routes, according to City Communications Manager Geno Palazzari. 

Declaring a snow emergency was delayed somewhat this morning with crews believing they could keep up with snow levels without residents having to move their vehicles.  

That changed by mid-morning.  

“What we are now hearing from the National Weather Service is that we could be getting another 6-12 inches on top of this after 5 p.m. today, so that is why we are declaring it now. We are anticipating what is coming will be much worse than what we have already seen.” 

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Palazzari, who said he has not issued Snow Emergency since April 2020 because of the lack of moisture, said declaring and not declaring is a tricking decision. 

“Sometimes we declare it and we don’t get a drop of snow, and other times we don’t declare it and we get bombed. That’s just how it goes,” Palazzari said. “We are relying on our friends at the National Weather Service to do what they do best and then we make our decision based on what they say.” 

Palazzari said making the decisions are tough. He gave an example of a storm two years ago that was supposed to dump two feet of snow, so everything closed, including schools. 

“The sun never stopped shining. It was a big nothing burger,” Palazzari said. “What do you do, ignore the warnings, and then it falls, and the kids are stuck at school for a week? We do the best with what we know and are told.” 

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Gillette City Streets Manager Troy Tyrrell said his department will remain busy all day and night. 

“It’s all hands on deck now, today and tonight,” he said. “We have nine of our big trucks out and four of our one-ton trucks taking care of the smaller residential streets. We’re not stopping.” 

He said so far there have not been any big issues other than keeping the streets cleared the best his crews can before the Level 1 Snow Emergency goes into effect later. 

“The winds been blowing so that’s helped keep the heavy, wet snow from accumulating on the trees,” he explained. “That’s one of the big concerns because if trees fall, you have a bigger mess and more road blockage than just the snow.”