How To Dig Out After a Blizzard

If you live in an area that regularly sees snow, clearing the driveways and sidewalks after a winter storm is a regular part of life. But when severe winter weather strikes, and the snowfall is measured in feet instead of inches, digging out becomes a lot more work.

Even if the weather caught you off guard, you’ll still have to brave the cold and dig your way out. Here are some tips to help you clear away all that ice and snow.

How to clear snow from your sidewalks

If you own your own home, you are responsible for shoveling sidewalks on your property. In fact, homeowners can be held liable if someone is injured after falling on an obstructed walkway, so it’s important to ensure your sidewalk is cleared.

Some places even have laws setting time frames by which snow must be cleared. Expectations vary by state, city and township, so review your local snow removal ordinances to avoid having to brave the cold and pay a fine or receive a citation on top of that.

For clearing sidewalks, your options will be limited to a snowblower or shovel. If you’re shoveling, be sure to follow these snow shoveling safety tips to avoid an injury. When you’re finished, add salt or ice melt to the sidewalk to prevent ice buildup.

How to remove snow from your driveway

After a blizzard, you’ll want to quickly regain access to the street in front of your house. Here are a few options to get the job done:

Snow plow

While they do sell snow plow attachments for lawn tractors and ATVs, plowing typically isn’t a DIY job for most homeowners. However, hiring a snow plow may not be an option after a big snowstorm. Not only will demand be incredibly high after a blizzard, but really deep snow can become nearly impossible to plow. If you want to hire a snow plow, do it in advance of the storm. Unless a state of emergency has been declared, the plow company will probably come several times during the storm to keep the snow levels more manageable. Read these tips for how to hire a snow removal contractor.

Snow blower

If you don’t have access to a plow, the easiest way to clear your driveway will be using a snow blower. When using a snow blower, start in the middle of your driveway and keep making U-turns to work outward. This allows you to blow snow to both sides of the drive. However, not all snow blowers are created equal. So before you get started, ensure your machine is up to the task.

  • Smaller single-stage snow blowers: These can work well for snow up to 9 inches deep. But when facing deeper snowfall, they likely won’t have the power to get the job done.
  • Larger, two- and three-stage gas snow blowers: These use multiple augers and impellers designed to throw larger amounts of snow for long distances. If you’re clearing snow that’s deeper than the top of your snow blower’s auger housing, you should also install drift cutters. These metal arms are designed to cut through deep snow, which prevents it from falling over the top of your housing and onto the machine.

Snow shovel

Using a shovel is obviously the most labor-intensive method of clearing your driveway. However, if you shovel frequently during the snowstorm (instead of waiting until it’s over), you can lessen the amount of snow you need to move each time. You may spend more time shoveling, but it will be easier on your back.

Experts also recommend using two types of shovels to clear your drive:

  • Push first: First, use a pusher or plow-type shovel to push the snow to the edges of your driveway.
  • Then, scoop: After you’ve finished pushing, use a more traditional snow shovel with sides to scoop what’s left out of the way.