Monthly Archives: October 2016

Sno-Way Intl. Introduces New Spreader Controller

Sno-Way Spreader Controller Image 2

New Controller Improves Performance of Sno-Way Poly V-Box Spreader

Sno-Way International has announced the introduction of a new controller for their poly v-box spreaders.  This innovative new controller allows for independent control of the auger and the spinner for greater precision in spreading the salt, sand, or whatever you would like to load your spreader with.

There are also push button controls for the vibrator option as well as the optional light.  If you like a wetting system to combine with your spreader for greater ice fighting options, there is also a push button to engage the wetting system as well.  It is a plug and play controller, just plug it in to any PDE spreader you buy from Sno-Way and the controller is ready to use.  Even better, the heavy wiring remains on the spreader, there is only a thin wire that connects the controller to the spreader for easier installation into the cab (only a 3/8” hole!).

Sno-Way Spreader Controller Image 1

Same Speed, No Matter the Load

A benefit of the new control system is that it sets the speed of the auger and spinner, not the power to the motors.  In other words, if the auger gets hit with a large chunk, then the auger does not slow down (like a power regulated motor would), but power is increased to maintain the speed of the auger.  This means if your flow of material remains constant, no matter how easily or hard the motor is working to chew through what is in your hopper.

Terry Wendorff, the president of Sno-Way International put it like this, “I compare it to the cruise control system on your truck when you go up a hill your truck will automatically down shift and accelerate until you are back up to your set speed, once you go down the hill it will automatically up shift and decelerate until you are back to your speed setting.

Auto-Mode for Spreader Vibrator

Another nice feature of the new control system is the auto mode setting on the vibrator.  You only want the vibrator working when material needs to loosen up a little, otherwise it can loosen material too much dumping everything quickly onto your auger, or it can actually cause some materials to become compacted and stopping flow altogether.  The auto mode monitors material flow and when material flow changes, the vibrator will switch on and off to compensate.

What about the pre-wetting system?  The pre-wetting system is programmed to coincide with the material flow rate as determined by the auger speed.  The faster the auger speed, the more the material, the more fluid flow; and vice-versa when the auger is slower, less fluid flow.

Run/Pause Button Makes Life Easier

What would a control be without a pause button?  If you want to keep the same settings while you turn around or if you have to cross a spot you have covered to get to the next untreated area, you just hit the pause button.  Then, hitting the “run” button, you start up with the exact same settings you had before.

Other features on the control are a back lit LCD screen and a timer that keeps track of your auger speed to estimate material usage.  This new control really brings Sno-Way forward in bringing you a spreader that saves time and money by giving you a consistent application without any monkeying around while you are on site.

Sno-Way Poly V-Box Spreader

The controller goes well with Sno-Way’s line of PDE spreaders which they have engineered to spread just about anything (I mean anything, dry or WET!, like salt, sand, pea gravel…okay maybe not concrete).  You can learn more about what Sno-Way is up to at

October Isn’t Always This Nice


Milwaukee – Fall has been quite mild for most of the United States.  In fact, September east of the Rockies was one of the warmest for many locations (Fig. 1).  In the image below, the light orange to dark orange divisions east of the Rockies were above average to warmest on record.  The mild weather has continued in October with many locations seeing a late frost, if it has even happened.

Sept. 2016 Temperature Rank

Fig. 1 September Temp Rankings


Not every fall is warm and mild.  How quickly we can forget early blasts of cold and snow in October.  Just five years ago the east coast was blasted by record setting snow.  And, guess what?  It was a very warm October with temperatures well above average for the first three weeks.  I am not suggesting that we are going to see snow before the end of the month in major cities.  However, the longer the mild weather lasts, the more likely we can expect an abrupt change.  Winter eventually arrives and some years there isn’t a nice gradual change to adapt.

Getting back to late October, 2011…  This storm was given a name – Snowtober.  It was a major disruption for millions of people in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.  The storm developed off the coast of North Carolina on October 29th and moved north.  By the time the storm moved out to sea, millions were without power and record snow hit parts of Pennsylvania north to Maine.

Snowtober Snow Fall

Fig. 2 Snowtober Snowfall

On the wide view of the East Coast in figure 2, significant snow fell from the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia north into central and eastern Pennsylvania through northern New Jersey, southern New York and most locations in New England.  Everywhere you see blue is snow in excess of 4”.  Purple areas designate snowfall of 10”or more.  A close up of the heaviest snow shows western Massachusetts and southwestern New Hampshire were the bulls-eyes.

Southern New Englad Snow Fall Snowtober

Fig. 3 Southern New England Snowfall

Jaffrey, New Hampshire measured 31.4” of snow and Plainfield, Massachusetts measured 30.8” of snow.  Other notable snow totals:

  • Central Park = 2.9”
  • Portland, ME = 5.2”
  • Allentown, PA = 6.8”
  • Wilkes Barre, PA = 9.1”
  • Gray, ME = 12.9”

Not only were snow amounts significant, but this was a heavy wet snow.  The weight of the snow brought down branches and trees causing power outages to over 3 million people.  The National Weather Service reported that some communities in Connecticut were without power for over a week.  Winds were also very strong with gusts to 69 mph along the Massachusetts coast.  39 people died from the storm.

Because the storm impacted areas adjacent to the major cities of the east coast, it only rated 1.8 on the Regional Snowfall Index (RSI).  RSI is used by the National Weather Service to rank snowstorms by impact on population.  It has a ranking system of 1 through 5.  The same ranking scale Enhanced Fujita and Saffir-Simpson for tornadoes and hurricanes.

Snowtowber Snow Storms

Fig. 4 Snowtober RSI Reports

In Figure 4, note how many of the snowfall reports are north and west of I-95 and the major population centers of Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.  A 1.8 on the RSI is a notable storm.  For the 3 million without power it was more than notable.  It was also a Halloween when many kids wore boots, mittens and hats while navigating snow piles between homes.  It was only five years ago.  Don’t be caught off guard because of our mild fall temperatures.  Winter is coming.  Are you going to be ready?


Meteorologist Mark McGinnis can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @fairskiesconsul

Berlon Auger for Fast Snow Removal in Hard to Reach Places

Berlon Snow Auger Operational Hookup

Berlon Industries is rolling out a new snow auger attachment for fast snow removal in hard to reach places. Dubbed the Snowger, it is designed to sneak under trailers and other areas to safely and quickly remove snow.

The idea came to Elliot Pennock when he noticed how difficult it was to clear snow from under semi-trailers, especially with snow pushers and plows. To solve that problem, Pennock came up with the Snowger, which looks like a box plow with an auger running through it.




“The Snowger is far superior than offset angle plows and pushers that are often used to clear snow from underneath semi-trailers,” said Elliott Pennock, who came up with the idea for the attachment. “An angle plow or pusher might get the job done, but it’s not very efficient. If you’re operating a large distribution or trucking facility, efficiency is the name of the game, and the Snowger provides it.”

Mike Ebben, President/CEO of Berlon Industries comments that while the original design was intended to remove snow from under tractor trailers, “other uses for the Snowger will come up, like for airports, loading docks, and other hard to reach places.”

The Snowger is made to attach to skid steers, compact wheel loaders, and tractor loaders with auxiliary hydraulics. The Snowger comes standard with a universal skid steer mount hookup and has several other mounting options available as well. The unit is has two heavy duty mounts. The offset mount is used for removing snow. The center mount is used when you aren’t operating the unit and need a stable load when traveling greater distances.

With a 13” auger housed in a long 16.5’ wide by 24” high body, the Snowger can windrow snow 8 feet away from an area you are clearing. That means the snow is not only moved out of the way from something like a semi-trailer, it is also ready to be completely moved out of the way with a plow right afterward. The Snowger comes with bright LED lights for increased visibility and safety.

“Distribution facility operators need snow removed fast, safely and efficiently,” Pennock said. “Trailer spotters work quickly and need to securely hook up a trailer for positioning. With the Snowger, they can be confident that snow and ice build-up won’t jeopardize a proper hook up. Property damage and personal injury risks are also reduced.”

Take a look at the Snowger at work.


Berlon Industries designs and manufactures buckets and work site attachments for skid steers, tractor loaders, compact utility tractors, wheel loaders and telehandlers. Their products are used in the construction, snow removal, agricultural, and landscaping markets. The roots of Berlon reach back to 1943 and the company has been growing and expanding rapidly over the last decade. This team is definitely one to watch over the next few years.

La Niña Impact on U.S. Winter 2016-2017 Snowfall

Milwaukee – The original weak La Niña forecast earlier this summer was reinforced by the monthly ENSO outlook released Thursday, October 13th.  The latest forecast reversed the September Neutral outlook.  The September forecast was a low confidence 55 to 60% Neutral outlook.  It has now been replaced by a 70% confidence La Niña outlook.  A flip flop in the forecast was not a surprise and we discussed that in an earlier video blog.

Fig. 1 October ENSO Probability Forecast
Fig. 1 October ENSO Probability Forecast

So, the official NOAA outlook is back to expecting a weak La Niña this winter transitioning to neutral by late winter or spring.  We have maintained that outlook all along at

How does that impact snowfall and who can expect more snow than average?  Great questions and let us first answer that by looking at snowfall and temperatures for the United States in La Niña winters. Then compare that historical data to the NOAA current outlook for winter 2016/2017.

La Niña Snow and Temps

In these next images, historical weather data is plotted for La Niña.  I focus on November through April in 3 month increments.  The anomalies (deviations from normal) for snow and temperature are plotted.  We start with temperatures.  Blue is below average temperatures and yellow above average.

Click Maps to Enlarge

Starting with Fig. 2, temperatures are below average in the northern plains in November and continue below average through Fig. 5, February, March and April.  Texas and points east look mild with slightly above average temperatures.  Certainly it looks colder than the very mild winter of 2015/ 2016.

Now, we can focus on snowfall during the same time period.  Blue areas on the map represent above average snowfall with brown, yellow and red below average snowfall.

Click Maps to Enlarge

Snowfall is above average from November through April, figures 6 through 9, especially in the central California Sierras north through the Cascades and into the northern and central Rockies.  This includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Colorado.  Also, look how the area of blue, above average snow, grows during the winter in the Midwest and New England.  This includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Recently, significant rain and snow has fallen in the Pacific Northwest.  This is not surprising when you look at these maps.  In fact, here is a 30 day rainfall plot of Washington.

Fig. 10 Washington Rainfall
Fig. 10 Washington Rainfall

In figure 10, note how the rain has really increased since October 5th.  The area of green, above average rainfall, is currently over 200% above normal.  During the same time period, the highest peaks of the Northwest  – from Mount Shasta to Mount Baker – saw over 10 feet of snow.  With La Niña forecast, it would not be a surprise to see above average rainfall and snow continue through spring.

So, historical data shows that the northern United States, especially the Pacific Northwest experience below average temperatures and above average snowfall during La Niña winters.  In the last two weeks, the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest has begun and the impact is significant and in line with the November, December and January La Niña historical data.

NOAA CPC Winter Forecast

This now brings us to the Climate Prediction Center forecast for winter 2016 and 2017.  How does it compare to the La Niña historical data and the forecast of La Niña weakening by February 2017?  Again, we start with a look at the temperature forecast.  Red denotes areas with expected above average temperatures and blue represents areas more likely to experience below average temperatures.

Click Maps to Enlarge

NOAA forecasts well above average temperatures for the Southwestern United States from November through April in figures 11 through 14.  The chances for above average temperatures, extends east along the Southern United States, but the odds are not as strong.  Below average temperatures only appear in the North Central United States from December through April figures 11 through 13.

Here are the NOAA precipitation forecasts for the same time period.  The brown shade denotes below average precipitation and green above average.

Click Maps to Enlarge

The NOAA forecast favors below average precipitation for the Gulf Coast and Southeast United States from late fall through early spring in figure 15.  An area of above average precipitation resides over the Northern Rockies and smaller area over the Great Lakes in figures 16, 17 and 18.

The NOAA forecast highlights a dryer and warmer winter for the southern United States.  The NOAA forecast for the northern United States calls for average to slightly below average temperatures and average to above average precipitation.  The NOAA forecast compares very favorably with La Niña historical temperatures in figures 2 through 5.  Precipitation and snowfall are not the same; however, the NOAA forecast of above average precipitation does align with La Niña historical bountiful snowfall in the Cascades and Northern Rockies.


After looking at all of the figures and forecasts, what can we expect this winter?  Most locations in the northern United States will experience colder temperatures than last winter’s very mild El Niño.  For many northern locations, temperatures return to long term averages.  Some locations will see below average temperatures, especially in the Northern Plains and Great Lakes.  Snowfall across the Northern United States also rebounds from last winter to long term averages.  Above average seasonal snow is most likely in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, Great Lakes and New England.

One final point, as La Niña weakens in February and March, the temperature and snowfall in figures 5 and 8 are unlikely to verify as the influence of La Niña on our weather patterns retreats.  For snow hounds and people in a snow-reliant industry, this winter will resemble a more normal winter season than last winter.

Meteorologist Mark McGinnis can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @fairskiesconsul

Why SIMA, Why now?


martinc4c247d15ec56052ba9bff0000d2ebfeAnyone who has been in the Snow and Ice Management industry for even a short while is familiar with SIMA, the Snow & Ice Management Association.  This week we had a chance to chat with SIMA CEO Martin Tirado about SIMA and how SIMA adds value to the Snow and Ice Management Industry.

We asked, “Why Should Anyone Pay to be a Member of SIMA?”

Snow management professionals are not charities.  They work hard to protect the public during and after winter events and their income is hard earned.  That means money spent needs to add value to your organization.  We wanted to know how SIMA brings value to your organization.

Tirado understood instantly where we were coming from and pointed out a long list of items that come with SIMA membership, including:

  • Training for employees
  • Training for snow management business owners
  • Safety Training
  • Access to an extensive list of best practices
  • Access to templates for your business like contracts, checklists, HR forms, estimating forms, and timelines
  • Discounts on various products
  • A special resource for insurance
  • And More

Just the free training and updates on best practices is worth the annual membership, yet there is more to SIMA than a list of stuff that you get.

SIMA as a Trusted Source

Tirado pointed out that with all the noise out there, SIMA is the organization you can trust to provide quality, reliable information to keep you knowledgeable and informed.  SIMA stays on the cutting edge, investigating practices people are testing out, seeing which ones are widely adopted by stakeholders to know which practices truly are “best practices” for today’s snow management professional.  Then SIMA shares those best practices with you so you can stay on the cutting edge of the industry as well.

SIMA Promotes Industry Relationships

To advance your company, SIMA promotes relationship building between snow and ice management professionals.  These relationships are doorways to help those in the industry reach beyond their current “box” and find solutions needed both inside and outside your company.

SIMA is Your Advocate

Unfortunately, the world is not fair, and SIMA is able to stand up for the industry, representing the group better than most in the industry can on their own.  With the combined voice of many in the industry, SIMA can approach government officials on the state and federal level to ensure the Snow and Ice Management Industry gets the respect and fair shake it deserves, and therefore local contractors have the opportunity to get treated fairly by our governments.

What does Tirado See as Trends in the Industry?

“Data tracking and data validation have come a long way,” Tirado shared.  “Mobile Apps and GPS tracking are now affordable for the average contractor.”  That means what used to be technology for only the largest 10% of snow management companies is now affordable for even small contractors.  These programs provide routes, give specs for jobs, and even help with documentation of what is going on while making a client site safe for vehicles and pedestrians.

Other trends Tirado expects to continue are the use of liquids, either for pre-wetting of salt or wet application of brine directly to surfaces.  The equipment that used to be available only to governments has come down in price and become much easier to use for snow and ice management companies allowing companies to use these options to lower their overall costs by reducing salt consumption during the winter season.


Mission and Not a Mission Statement

If you visit SIMA’s “Discover SIMA” page, you will notice they do not have a “Mission Statement” but instead there is a “Mission.”  The SIMA mission is “Empowering snow & ice management for success.”  You will notice a difference between organizations that have a “mission statement” and those that are on mission.  Talking to Tirado, it is apparent SIMA wants to live out its mission instead of just keeping a pretty “mission statement” plaque on their wall.

Tirado wants to see the whole industry, and especially snow management contractors, succeed in their work.  We talked about how the industry is really about protecting people. You could tell that Tirado feels snow & ice removal teams on the streets after a winter storm are fulfilling a noble calling no less important than police, fire fighters, and ER doctors in ensuring people are cared for.  Tirado would like to see SIMA do everything it can to empower those teams toward success.

Are you a SIMA member?  Hop on over to our Facebook page and tell us what your favorite part about SIMA membership is.

This article is by Staff Reporter Jeff Serafin who has been following the industry since 2006.