Each year, it seems that more people are growing concerned with climate change’s potential to affect various industries, and snowfighters are no different. The threat of shifting weather patterns and increasingly unpredictable winter conditions are enough to get even the hardened snowfighters worried for the future. All the information on climate change out there can feel like information overload, so here’s how climate change will affect our industry from a snowfighter’s perspective.
Snowfighting's History With Climate Change
Snowfighters today constantly talk about climate change, but over ten years ago, climate change was a genuine fear in everyone’s mind. However, we didn’t have the rhetoric to call it what it was at the time accurately. People called it “global warming,” which led to confusion in the field. When there was excessive snowfall, guys would say, “What do you mean global warming? We have more snow than ever!” When there was less snow than usual, guys would say, “There you go! Global warming is killing our industry.”
As snowfighters, we have to respond to whatever weather comes our way. At the end of the day, above or below-average snowfall is irrelevant because we take care of it either way. However, the seemingly unpredictable nature of climate change makes doing our job that much harder.
Kansas City Case Study
15 years ago, I got tired of the uncertainty and decided to conduct an in-depth study on the climate change phenomenon and how it would affect the snowfighting industry.
After reaching out and collaborating with my local meteorologist, we uncovered 120 years of climate-tracking information and statistics for the Kansas City area. So I researched the past 120 years of climate information for Kansas City to see if drastic changes in climate were increasing over time.
When you chart the information from these old reports, especially when segmented into decades, you start noticing patterns. Every decade for the past 120 years has had the same pattern in some form. In a 10-year span, three years in that decade experienced above-average snowfall, three years in that decade experienced below-average snowfall, and the remaining four years experienced Kansas City’s average snowfall of 20”. Each decade for the past 120 years, except for the 1950s, which experienced record-breaking snowfall, has gone exactly the same and followed the same pattern.
Is Climate Change Affecting Your Snowfighting Business?
Given what we know now about climate change and the research I’ve done from the Kansas City case study, when people ask, “Is climate change affecting my snowfighting business,” my answer is always: not as much as you think.
A few decades ago, the rhetoric behind “global warming” was that it was getting progressively worse over time until it reached a breaking point. The Kansas City case study suggests nothing out of the ordinary: weather is simply unpredictable, yet there are noticeable patterns when you do your research. As snowfighters, it’s our job to notice these patterns and have the insider knowledge and skills to adequately prepare for them.
However, it is essential to note that anomalies happen! As my research shows, in the 1950s, Kansas City experienced never-before-seen snowfall that completely covered the city. To get ahead of these out-of-nowhere snow averages, the city purchased massive, heavy-duty V-plows to help clear it. The only issue is Kansas City has never experienced that kind of snow since. As a result, those V-Plows haven’t been used since either.
Adapting To Changing Climates
Regardless of if your jurisdiction’s snowfall average will follow the same pattern as the Kansas City case study, every snowfighter will have to deal with below and above-average snowfall at some point in their career.
It’s good practice to plan for those three years when you’ll experience above-average snowfall. That way, regardless of what kind of snow you get, you’ll still be able to keep the roads open for your clients and communities. However, you must remember that there will be light snowfall years ahead. Overbuying or mismanaging labor during below-average snowfall years could severely hurt your business. Planning for both possibilities can be tough, but there are workarounds to ensure you come out on top.
One of those ways is to mix up your contracts. Make sure you have a healthy variety of contracts out so that regardless of the average snowfall, you’ll still come out ok. Between seasonal contracts, per-application contracts, and more, you could find a ratio that ensures profitability season after season.
Another way to ensure you always come out on top is to collaborate with meteorologists and private weather experts. As snowfighters, it is unreliable to base your business on what you hear on the news. Having an insider meteorologist forecasting for you is a surefire way to ensure yearly profit.
As snowfighters, we are responsible for keeping spaces and the people in them safe. While climate change may not affect our industry much now, there’s no telling what will happen in the future if we use harsh snowfighting methods in our environment. Learn about the environmental benefits of using liquid brine for your anti-icing operations today.