Storm Lake, BV County Saves Money With Mild Winter

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The City of Storm Lake and Buena Vista County are expected to save about $280,000 from lighter than expected snow removal operations this year.

Buena Vista County Engineer Bret Wilkinson said the county would save $200,000 in the county’s winter budget.

Storm Lake chief financial officer Brian Oakleaf said the city spent $155,500 on snow removal operations this winter. City Council has budgeted $255,500 for this year’s operations, which have been much less intense than expected.

The city is expected to incur “vehicle allowance, repair and labor” costs before the snow removal season officially ends, Oakleaf noted.

“Without another snow event, I would expect to be $70,000 to $80,000 under budget,” Oakleaf said.

The city and county only experienced two major snowstorms that required overnight removal.

The city incurred a combined $111,000 from the two major snowstorms that occurred this winter, according to a review of city budget documents. The city calculates the cost of its operations in terms of labor hours, equipment hours, tons of salt and sand it applies to the roads, and gallons of diesel fuel consumed by its equipment.

The cause of this year’s overages was a drought that has set in in northwest Iowa since the fall of 2020. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources ranked this winter in Iowa as the 16th driest on record. The average amount of snowfall in the state is 22.5 inches this year; the statewide average is 12.5 inches.

The DNR’s monthly water supply update placed Buena Vista County in the moderate drought category for the first time since last October. The Storm Lake area only accumulated 0.07 inches of precipitation from March 1 through March 25, according to the National Weather Service.

The total precipitation for this week is not known. The drought eased somewhat on Tuesday and Wednesday; the National Weather Service forecast sporadic rain and snow for the Storm Lake area on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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