Monthly Archives: November 2016

Introducing the New Interactive Snow Forecast Map!

Interactive Snow Forecast MapKnowing your need for information about the next snowfall, we have created an interactive snow forecast map with help from the NOAA maps so you can know exactly when you will get hit with the next snow.  No need to try to catch the news and no checking multiple different zip codes on a weather site to get a sense of how much snow each part of your territory will get, just hop on over to our map!

You can change the amount of snow you want to see forecast, how far out you want to look and the minimum probability of snow; the map tells you what you need to know.  Want to know where 2+ inches are expected in the next 24 hours?  You can do that!  How about how much snow is going to fall in the next 72 hours with a better than 90% probability?  You can get that too.  Oh, you want the ice forecast instead?  This map has you covered!

You can leave it on the page or go ahead and click on that “View larger map” button for the best viewing.   Just play with the settings on top and click the “Get Map” button on the far right.

Interactive Snow Forecast Map 2

We have been working for a little while now to get you this map on our site, and honestly, we think it is better than cool.  We can just imagine some of you out there putting it up on your 60” TV in the office so everyone can see the map of incoming snow all day long.

We hope you enjoy the map as much as we do and be sure to bookmark the page so you can visit the map every day during the season.  If you do put it up on a big screen, be sure to send us a picture so we can show everyone on our Facebook page and be sure to send all your friends a link to the page as well.

Written by staff writer Jeff Serafin

Ariens Company Sells Aftermarket Parts Businesses to Arrowhead Engineered Products

Arctic Avenger Logo

Arrowhead Engineered Products Inc. (formerly Arrowhead Electrical Products, Inc.) will be the new owner of Stens and JThomas Parts.  Owned by Ariens Company, Stens has been with Ariens since 1995 and JThomas since 2008, the companies are changing hands under unknown terms as both buyer and seller are privately held companies.

Stens and JThomas are both aftermarkets parts distributors.  Stens primarily markets to the independent power equipment dealers while JThomas Parts reaches out directly to landscape contractors.

Ariens Company Logo

For Ariens, this move while help the company focus more on its core business.  “This is a strategic decision that allows the company to continue to re-invest in the original equipment manufacturing business,” says Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO of Ariens Company.  For Ariens, the hope is to turn the freed up capital into new manufacturing technologies as well as increasing the R&D capabilities to reduce time to market and a new e-commerce platform for its niche outdoor supply brands.

For Arrowhead Engineered Products, the move opens up the door to a wider distribution channel and a greater ability to service their customers.  As Jim Wisnoski put it, “The combination of Arrowhead with the Stens and JThomas organization creates a unique and powerful platform in support of our mission to always be our customers’ first choice for critical replacement parts.”

Arrowhead Engineered Products Logo

Ariens and Arrowhead will be working to make what they hope to be a seamless transition for their clients by the end of the year.  Ariens tried to do their homework ahead of time, finding a buyer whom they felt would be a close cultural match for the Stens and JThomas teams.  Ariens said, “The Ariens Company and the Ariens family gave this a lot of thought and consideration, and feel that the owners of Arrowhead are a close match with Ariens in that we share numerous cultural values and have a high regard for customer relationships.

Cold & Snow Finally Coming in 2016!


Snow Weather if Finally Coming!

If you look at the image above you will note there is a high probability of snow in a band of weather stretching from Wyoming to Minnesota.  The cold air pushing south is finally going to bring seasonal temperatures and for most of the US, the first significant snow fall of the season.  In this next image, you can see how little snow has accumulated this season so far, and only in the mountains on the west side of the US or toward the far east and west in Canada.


The next three days will change all that with snow starting to fall on the 17th and continuing to spread over the next three days.


Along with the snow will be the cold air we have been waiting for slowly spreading across the country.  For most of the northern and plains states, that means it is time to put away the lawn mowers and put on the snow plows to be ready for your turn at the snow.

Join the conversation on our Facebook page.  What was the earliest snow fall you remember requiring you to plow snow?

Gravely Pro-QXT Product Review

Gravely Pro-QXT with Brush Attachment removing snow

Gravely Pro-QXT for Winter and Year-Round Use

The Gravely Pro-QXT is the ultimate year-round machine for your snow removal arsenal.  With a brush, blade, and snow thrower attachment, it is ready for any snow, from dustings to blizzards.  The Pro-QXT is truly a commercial machine, able to take the rigors of a hard day’s work, day in and day out throughout the year.

We had a chance to talk to Trae Humphreys, product manager for the Gravely line, who shared his opinion of why he loves this tractor.  Let’s break down what is so great about the Pro-QXT, hear why Humphreys loves this tractor, and find out why we love this tractor so much too.

Easiest Attachment Swapping

The beauty of the Pro-QXT is the large number of different attachments make the machine versatile for year-round use, but with most multi-function tractors, going to the next attachment is a huge pain in your tail side.  This Gravely tractor was designed to have the easiest attachment swapping in its class.

To hook-up a new attachment, it is as easy as getting the attachment coupling within 6 inches of the tractor hookup.  The attachment is self-aligning and almost attaches itself.  That is great news for snow guys, and really, it was the snow removal teams that inspired the Gravely team to make such an easy attachment.

Humphreys told us, “We were challenged by one of the company’s regional sales managers to make the system easy to use by one person, in a dimly-lit area, wearing heavy winter gloves, in frigid temperatures, toward the end of working an 18-hour shift.”  While the team initially laughed at the suggestion, they surprised themselves with meeting that goal and that is how the tractor earned its name, the letters QXT stand for quick-attach.

The fast attachment swapping is great news, because you can swap attachments on the fly during a big snow event.  You can start with the brush attachment when the snow starts, move to the blade or the snow thrower when heavy accumulation is found, and go back to the brush for a final cleaning when everything is done.

Easy to Use Large Tractor

The literature says the Pro-QXT has “intuitive power steering” and a “Rapid Control System,” but we find those words really don’t tell the story.  What the hydrostatic drive and Rapid Control System do is make the big, powerful tractor move along the pavement about as easily as the operator could move an almost empty wheel barrow.

What happens is the handgrips sense hand movement and send information to the machine, effortlessly pointing the machine in the direction the operator wants to go in.  This means your crew will not get tired out from a long day of trying to wrestle the machine at every turn.  For your work crew, it will almost be as easy as walking in the park (admittedly, a walk on a very cold day).

How easily the Pro-QXT moves and turns is amazing considering it has a large, all-season, Subaru 14 HP (404 CC) engine on it.  That is only 20% smaller than the Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycle, so you know this machine has a big engine with a lot of power for any task you throw at it.

The ease of use is key, not only to keep your team full of energy, but the maneuverability of the Pro-QXT means you should expect less damage to client property than what you sometimes find with a UTV where workers are tempted to go too fast and can’t steer clear of obstacles.  That is a great advantage of this QXT, the control the operator gets means you should have less conversations with clients about repairing their property.

Year-Round Tractor

One of the best parts of the QXT is the fact it is meant to be a year-round tractor.  You are not locking up money for a piece of equipment that will sit in storage 8-9 months of the year.  Just look at the list of attachments this machine has:

  • 44” Brush
  • 48” Blade
  • 32” Snow Thrower Head
  • 36” Finishing Mower (1.5 – 4″ cut range)
  • 48” Finishing Mower (1.5 – 4″ cut range)
  • 32” Brush Mower (1 – 4″ cut range, can cut saplings up to 1.5” thick!)

That means the quick attachments are ideal not only to swap equipment out as a snow event progresses, but the machine can be used 12 months out of the year!  Rather than paying for two pieces of specialized equipment, you are paying only a smaller amount for an additional attachment.

Gravely is Going Back to Its Roots with the Pro-QXT

Gravely is over 100 years old and it started with selling two-wheel walk-behind tractors.  Gravely is an all-American company, building equipment in the US since its very beginning.  In fact, the original idea to build the tractor came from all of the clients that had old Gravely tractors still going strong.

The long history of Gravely intersects also with the high quality reputation of the Ariens Company. Ariens bought Gravely in 1982 from Studebaker Packard Corporation.  The Gravely product line is now built alongside of Ariens branded equipment in Brillion, Wisconsin.  The Ariens team supported Gravely in developing the Pro-QXT tractor and Ariens, the “King of Snow,” helped a lot with the design of the snow thrower attachment.

The new Gravely tractor has been attracting a lot of people in landscaping, property management, and rental equipment industries in the little more than a year since the Pro-QXT has been out with excellent sales right out of the gate.  The tractor has found many fans because it really is versatile and easy to use.

The Pro-QXT project started three years ago and was officially introduced to the public in October of 2015.  Yet, it is not the fact that it is “new” that people are flocking to buy this tractor.  It is that the Pro-QXT is a versatile money-saving investment that is backed by a company known for its quality.  Mike Halloran, at equipment dealer Gravely of Chicago put it this way, “We sell Gravely because our customers see both the tradition of quality with the brand and the fact that they’re always on the cutting edge with engineering and development. For us, Gravely represents three things: great products, great people and a great future.”

Trae Humphreys, Project Manager behind the Gravely Pro-QXT

Humphreys expects that great future to continue with the Gravely Pro-QXT tractor.  It is a great tractor and as the attachment list grows, the interest and sales of the Pro-QXT will grow by leaps and bounds because the versatility of the machine means more money in your pocket.  You buy only one machine rather than three to get the job done.

Have you tried the Gravely Pro-QXT yet?  Add to the conversation on our Facebook page!

Written by staff writer Jeff Serafin


Contractor Highlight – Rasevic Snow Services

Rasevic Snow Services Front Loader

We had a chance to talk to Paul Rasevic at Rasevic Snow Services recently to learn about his business.  Rasevic Snow Services is headquartered in Bathesda, Maryland, and services central Maryland (including Baltimore), Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia.



Quick Stats:

  • Employees, Full Time: 38
  • Employees, Seasonal: 750
  • Equipment: everything from shovels to 8 yard loaders to snow melters
  • Favorite Snow Plow: Western
  • Favorite Loader Plow: Protech

How Did You Get Into the Snow and Ice Industry?

“My brother (Mark) and I have been shoveling sidewalks since we were eight years old.  It is all we know.  We started clearing snow professionally to keep our landscaping team busy year round; we got into it so we would not have to lay off people.  We have never laid anyone off.”

What Makes Rasevic Different Than Everyone Else?

Paul related the intensity to which they bring to aggressively pursuing the goals set for their customers is what sets them apart.  The Rasevic team staffs their main site as a command center with several additional satellite locations servicing the crews.

The Rasevic team will actually begin work 48 hours in advance of a significant snow event, even staffing the main site with a cook around the clock during big events to help keep the crews productive in the field.

“It is the intensity with which we attack the event, staying 24/7, until everything is done.”  We reckon it is this focus and intensity that draws a lot of zero tolerance clients to the Rasevic front door, ensuring people on the properties they service stay safe during the winter.


Where Does that Huge Temporary Workforce Come From?

Rasevic Snow services gets most of their temporary crew from industries there are generally shut down in the winter months.  Landscapers, roofers, construction trades, and the concrete industry is usually laying off during the same months the Rasevics need them most, allowing the Rasevic Payroll to swell 20 times what they carry in the summer months.

Rasevic Secrets

It is not just the intensity with which the Rasevic team serve their clients that help them win.  About ten years ago, they “blew up Excel” with the business planning they were trying to do.  The Rasevics developed proprietary software that manages everything from accounting to staffing.  Accounts are setup in the software during the preseason client signups, then during a snow event, everything from staffing to billing only takes a few clicks

The Rasevics also found they have a knack for sourcing snow and ice removal deicing products in a scarce market.  It started when big clients who sourced their own salt couldn’t find more when their stores ran out, yet the Rasevics could find the materials just fine.  That ability to source deicing materials gave birth to Snow and Ice Salt and Chemicals Unlimited (SISCU), where they will sell everything from rock salt to premium deicers to brine to driveway markers to gloves.


The new business, which started three years ago, has been a boon not only for the Rasevic clients, but fellow snow removal contractors who are trying to watch their costs carefully as well.  The combined buying power allows the Rasevics to get the best materials pricing allowing them to pass on the savings.

SISCU sees a lot of magnesium products get used in their area and has become a preferred supplier for many magnesium products.  Magnesium has several advantages including working in lower temperatures, needing smaller quantities to do the same job as rock salt, and it is more friendly to buildings, landscaping, pets, and the environment.

Snow and Philosophy?

An interesting fact is Mark Rasevic, one of the co-owners, has a degree in philosophy.  While it does not seem to relate, the critical thinking skills taught in philosophy is an asset to Mark as he needs to help prevent or solve issues on almost a daily basis.

One Last Word

Before we ended our conversation, Paul pointed out that the family’s participation in the industry is twofold.  “It is what we have always done, it is who we are and it is what we do.”  He quickly followed it up, “It is really about helping people.  Keeping people safe while providing a living for a lot of families.”  I think Paul speaks for a lot of contractors.

Join the conversation on our Facebook Page, why are you in the Snow and Ice Management Industry?

Lake Effect Snow Basics


Milwaukee – Cold air, significant cold air, is finally forecast to arrive for most of the northern United States in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  Our very warm Fall has meant little snow and even less Lake Effect Snow.  We talked about this last week, when we published an article on the end of the mild fall weather.  As stated in that article, the mild weather has been shared with many of Canada’s cities.

The second half of November still shows the likelihood of colder temperatures – most likely a drop to normal levels and possibly below normal.  By late November, that is cold enough for Lake Effect Snow.  Do you live around the Great Lakes or know somebody that does?  If they live on the leeward – south or east side of a Great Lake, they can get serious, monstrous snowfall.  Just two years ago, November 2014, New York was hit with two big Lake Effect Snow events.  Fig. 1 is a map of the first event that lasted from November 17th through 19th.

Western New York Lake Effect Snow Event

Fig. 1 Western New York LES Event

That bright bulls eye is just south of Buffalo, New York.  South Cheektowaga was the epicenter with 66” of snow.  Unbelievable!  Now, I am showing you this because prodigious amounts of snow are possible in November and early December around the Great Lakes not because a comparable event is likely in ten to fifteen days.  So, why does Lake Effect Snow occur and why are some events more significant than others?

Unique Geography Affecting Lake Effect Snow

Let’s start with the base.  This can only happen in a few locations in the world.  You need open water on large lakes or oceans and you need incursions of very cold air – arctic air that is well below freezing.  If you look at a world map, there are no locations in the southern hemisphere that qualify.  In the northern hemisphere, North America has the Great Lakes and many Canadian lakes – Great Bear Lake, Great Slave Lake and Lake Winnipeg.  In the United States, in addition to the Great Lakes, Lake Effect Snow has occurred on Great Salt Lake, Lake Champlain and even some of the bays along the east coast.  In Europe and Asia, Lake Effect Snow has occurred over the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Sea of Japan and Lake Baikal.  However, most of these locations either are too far north and ice over for most of the season or are too far south and have very infrequent incursions of arctic air.  Guess where in the world the lakes stay mostly, at least partially, ice free in winter and have frequent incursions of cold air?  You only get one guess.  Yes, the Great Lakes are very unique for fresh water and weather.  There is no other location in the world that combines water, cold and prodigious snowfall, outside of mountains, like the Great Lakes.  So, the first three ingredients are unique geography, large open water and frequent incursions of arctic air.

Temperatures and Lake Effect Snow

Now, we can dig a little deeper.  Let’s talk about temperatures.  In a Lake Effect Snow Event, there are two critical temperatures – the arctic air mass and the water temperature.  The greater the difference between the arctic air mass at about 4,000 feet and the surface water, the more energy is transferred from the water into the atmosphere.  This occurs through evaporation of water from the lake and condensation into the cloud; the greater the transfer, the more significant the snow event.  The greatest temperature difference is most likely in late Fall and early Winter, when lake water can still be in the 40s and 50s.  Arctic air masses can be as cold as 0° to 10° degrees – a 40 to 50 degree difference.  An atmosphere with such a change in temperature vertically is also called unstable or convectively productive.  The air just above the water climbs very quickly when temperatures at 4,000 feet are much colder.  This creates an even greater exchange of energy and moisture.  Figure 2 shows the process of transferring water from the lake into the cloud and then onto the land through snow.

Basic Lake Effect

Fig. 2 Basic Lake Effect System

Winds Influence Lake Effect Snow

A second and very important step is the wind field from the top of the cloud down to the surface.  The wind direction needs to be uniform.  If the wind shifts significantly within the cloud, the snowflake process is disrupted.  This results in cloudy skies and flurries – not significant snow.  How the wind aligns with long axis of any of the lakes is also very important.  Let me explain why.  If the wind aligns with the long axis of the lake, more moisture is transferred from the lake into the cloud.  In fact, for Lake Effect to be possible, a fetch of more than 60 miles is needed.  Any distance shorter, results in clouds and flurries.  If you look at figure 3, you can see that the most significant snowbelts are located at the end of the long axis of each lake – for example, northwest Indiana, western New York.

Lake Effect Snow Belts

Fig. 3 Lake Effect Snowbelts

Not only are the most significant snowbelts located at the end of the long axis, but they also benefit from moisture from multiple lakes.  If you live in Muskegon or South Bend, many of your Lake Effect Snow events gather moisture from Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.  In Cleveland and Erie, you receive moisture from Lake Huron and Lake Erie.  In Syracuse and Watertown, your Lake Effect Events can tap into moisture from Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario.  If you live in southern Ontario, your snowflakes can originate from moisture gathered from Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Topography Affects Lake Effect Snow

One last point to make about Lake Effect Snow:  A significant increase in elevation in a snowbelt, enhances or increases the potential for snowfall.  This is most notable in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Tug Hill Plateau of New York.  These two locations, by far, receive the greatest annual Lake Effect snowfall.  Hooker, New York holds the state record of 467” of snow and Hancock, Michigan holds the state record of 390” of snow.  You can see these two bulls-eyes in the annual snowfall of the western and eastern Great Lakes found in figures 4 and 5.

Western Great Lakes Annual Snowfall

Fig. 4 Western Great Lakes Annual Snowfall

Eastern Great Lakes Annual Snowfall

 Fig. 5 Eastern Great Lakes Annual Snowfall

As winter progresses, the water temperature cools and ice begins to form on the Great Lakes.  This reduces the potential for Lake Effect Snow by February and March.  Coinciding with the late season ice formation is Spring.  The warmer season means fewer incursions of Arctic air.

So, what are some of the biggest snows?  They happen from very cold air, warm waters, uniform wind direction and in locations with significant elevation.  Christopher Burt, writes for the Weather Underground, and has researched these impressive Lake Effect records:

Timeframe Amount of Snow Location Date
1 hour 12” Copenhagen, NY 12/2/1966
2 hours 17.5” Oswego, NY 1/26/1972
3 hours 22” Valparaiso, IN 12/18/1981
16 hours 51” Benetts Bridge, NY 1/18/1959
24 hours 77” Montague, NY 1/12/1997


And now that we are in the social media and digital age, we can see pictures like these:

Car With Lots Of Snow On Hood

Fig. 6 Photo: AP

Heavy Snow With Barn

Fig. 7 Photo: Cheryl Boughton

Snow Engulfs House

Fig.8 Photo: Michael Garood

What to Do

Hopefully, you understand some of the fundamentals of Lake Effect snow and why this is such a unique characteristic in the world.  You should also now be aware that we are in Lake Effect Snow season.  We have had a very warm Fall.  The outlook for late November still shows colder air moving into southern Canada and the northern United States.  It is now likely that the first significant Lake Effect Snow of the season comes during the week of Thanksgiving.  Can you hear me Marquette, Muskegon, southern Ontario, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo and Syracuse?  If you live around the Great Lakes, you should finish prepping for winter.  Again, it looks like it changes quickly in the next week to two weeks.

Meteorologist Mark McGinnis is on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @fairskiesconsul


66% of Snow and Ice for 35% of the Population

plowed lotOnly about 35% of the United States Population are in states that account for 65% of the snow and ice removal spend. While every state gets snow or ice during some winters (even Hawaii gets snow on the top of some mountains), it certainly isn’t a level playing field.

New York Biggest Consumer of Snow Removal


The northeastern states (New York and states east of New York) have the highest snow and ice revenues, but that is mostly because New York state by itself accounts for about $2.5 Billion of the total $18+Billion US market (that means New York accounts for almost 14% of the entire industry revenues from non-government customers).

Yet New York takes a back seat to Colorado when it comes to approximate dollars spent per person ($111 for New York vs $265 for Colorado).  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.  New York City gets an average 27 inches of snow a year while Denver gets about 81 inches a year.  Colorado just gets a whole lot more snow.


400,000 People in the Snow and Ice Industry

If you are part of the Snow and Ice industry in North America, you are part of an estimated 400,000-person army out there keeping people safe.  You cover 43,500 square miles of paved surfaces, which is about as large as the state of Ohio.  Just in parking lots and driveways alone you clear an estimated 500-750 million parking spaces worth of pavement.  Do you know how big that is?  750,000,000 parking spaces is more than twice the population of the United States and Canada combined.

The snow and ice industry serves to keep people safe, yet snow and ice accidents account for 25% of the total slip and fall accidents in North America.  Those accidents send 2.25 million people to the hospital every year averaging 11 lost work days and $28,000 in costs for every accident.  Because of the urgent need to keep public and private spaces safe along with the inevitability of snow and ice, the industry will stay on solid footing for a long time.

Snow Industry Expects Continued Growth


At 3.2% expected growth, the industry is expected to outpace GDP growth (2.5%) because of growth in commercial construction as well as growth in commercial occupancy creates more opportunities for the industry.  With a growing market, new technologies, and a guarantee of snow it looks like the snow and ice industry will continue to enjoy opportunities for those who participate.

How many square miles of pavement do you clean during the season? Join the conversation and let us know on our Facebook page.

Written by staff writer Jeff Serafin

Source: Martin Tirado of




73 Tons of Snow an Hour

Ariens Deluxe Snow Thrower

EZ-Launch EFI Brings more Power and Control

Ariens Company is releasing what they call their EZ-Launch EFI engine this year.  Why should you care?  More control, less fuel, longer life, easier operation, and 73 tons of snow per hour might get you interested.  They are the first we know of to use an electronic governor on a snow thrower engine to equip you with the ultimate snow thrower for commercial use.  Let us break down why their new engine boasts being the better buy for the contractor market.

EFI Governor Makes a Big Difference

An electronic fuel injector makes all the difference in the world.  The near instant reaction of an electronic governor means when all of a sudden you hit some hard pack snow, you are a lot less likely to kill or even significantly slow the engine.  Unlike traditional small engine governors, it also runs at maximum efficiency regardless of weather conditions, which means you use less fuel and only the exact amount of power you need to do the same job you did before EFI.

The electronic governor also means that this engine is simple to start and simple to use, even for your simplest employee.  You just put the key into the “on” position, pull the cord (or keep turning the key if you have the electric start), and you are throwing tons of snow.

We were able to talk to Amanda Marsicek, Product Manager at Ariens Company, and what she pointed out is that the engine is really about ease of use and giving you a lot better control.  Just turn the key and “take one easy pull” on the recoil, or even better, use the electric start feature, and you are throwing snow.

Ariens Professional Snow Thrower in front of Barn

Marsicek also pointed out the electronic governor will bring you more reliable operation year in and year out than with the more traditional mechanical or pneumatic governors.  The whole system is designed to keep you working and not in the repair shop.

Beyond the easy start, the controls are all at your fingertips on the snow thrower’s easy to use control dashboard.  You can precisely dictate engine speed, and it does not matter what changes while you are clearing a path, that engine speed is going to remain the same.  You can go from a lightly packed snow drift to hard packed snow a plow dumped at the end of the driveway, and this snow-thrower won’t ever miss a beat, the power is automatically adjusted to keep the augers spinning at the same speed.

EFI Engine Has More Surprises

One feature we were please to find was the sealed fuel system.  No more draining the fuel and burning off anything remaining in the system (and still getting a gummed up carburetor).  Just ensure you have fuel stabilizer in your fuel, run the stabilized fuel through your system for a bit, and let the machine sit for the season.  The sealed fuel system keeps the fuel from gumming up, so you are already set to go for the next season.

Ariens Platnimum Snow Thrower

The Snow Thrower the EFI Powers

The Ez-Start EFI system is on Ariens’ Deluxe and Platinum models of snow throwers.  While similar, the Deluxe series has a little less power and throwing distance, but it is available at Home Depot as well as Ariens’ dealer network.  The Platinum models can throw 10% further and is only available through their dealer network.

If you are a contractor, you will be glad to find a lot of essential features like a quick turn 200° chute, and auto-turning for tight corners plus accessories like cab protection and chains.  If you need even more power, their professional models boast of up to a 36” clearance width, almost a full 24” of height clearance, and come with drift cutters to get through those big drifts (note: the EFI is not available on all models yet, but even without EFI, these snow throwers kick some tail).

If you deal with some steep hills that need to be cleaned with a snow thrower, I will add that that you can trade in your tires for a track drive system giving you the best traction available.  Nothing can cut through the snow on hilly terrain better than the snow throwers with a track drive system, making this snow thrower unbeatable for steep inclines.

Ariens Snow Thrower with Tracks

A Heavy Duty Snow Thrower for Heavy Duty Contractors

There is nothing about the Ariens line-up that tries to be low end or vanilla.  Consistent with their reputation, these snow throwers were designed with contractors and facility managers in mind.  The auger can chew through hard pack snow in no time.  The machines are easy to maintain and easy to use.

Ariens also ensures these units can take the intense use that snow plow professionals and facility managers demand.  The handle bars are beefed up, the gear box is cast iron, and the housing can handle some knocking around yet even their cheapest unit is reliable and cleans to the ground.

Yes, These Snow Throwers Move a Lot of Snow!

The largest Ariens Professional snow thrower can move snow at the rate of up to 102 tons an hour and can land that snow exactly where you want.  If you have a lot of territory to cover where a snow plow just can’t reach, these snow throwers make a great option.  These machines really do throw snow, up to 60 feet away, and they breeze right through high snow drifts and hard pack snow.

We could tell you in our own words how easy it is for these machines to move snow, but we just couldn’t help quoting one online reviewer of this product who said, “I used to have trouble getting the end of the driveway after the plows went through, not anymore, this thing eats through snow like a pack of hyena’s eating a gazelle.”  That is some good snow moving power.

Matching Smaller Snow Throwers

If you like to keep your equipment similar, Ariens also carries some single stage snow throwers for lighter units you can throw in the back of the truck.  These units are ideal for quick cleanup of sidewalks and other places it is hard to reach with a snow plow.  The Ariens Path-Pro line is filled with hard-working units that can be as light as only 87 pounds.  Of course, with only a 12 housing height and 21-inch width, these are only ideal for small snows and short sidewalk runs.

Ultimately, our favorite has to be the EZ-Start EFI units that are easy to use, easy to maintain, and will chew through snow quick as lightning.  If you have a job to do, then use the machine that is going to get that job done fast and easy.

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

Daylight Savings Ends – Check Your Batteries

2001_dodge_ram-pickupYou have heard that you should check your smoke alarm batteries at the time change in fall, and remember to check your equipment batteries now too.  Waiting for the snow to fly is not when you want to think about getting new batteries.

If you are running a snow plow and an electric spreader, you put a lot of strain on your truck batteries.  Just because your truck starts in the cold does not mean your truck battery is up to the job for a full day (or night) of work.

With continually working hydraulics and possibly an extra burden from running a spreader, your truck batteries have a hard time recharging while you are out working in the field.  This is exactly why some folks swear by running with duel batteries, to help ensure the drain on the battery is spread out allowing for longer combined battery life.

If you are running only on a single truck battery and you are working as a snow removal contractor, often you will find your battery will not last like you hoped.  I know of some guys who replace batteries every 2-3 years because working a battery that hard shortens the life of your truck battery.

You will know your battery is having a hard time keeping up if you are running into issues with your hydraulics after working only a few short hours and the problem goes away if you stop plowing to let the battery recharge for a while.

It is better to buy a new truck battery now than to find you are having to stop every hour to let the battery charge.  Trying to save $100 on a truck battery is not worth the lost time sitting in a parking lot doing nothing.

Truck Battery
This Battery installed on a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 might need to be replaced.

Of course, it is not just your truck battery that needs to be checked.  Whether you have devices that use disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries, all batteries break down over time.  Check your batteries on handheld controls, tracking equipment, phones, flashlights, etc. before the snow flies.

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

(Disclosure: I admit the battery is mine, the image of the 1/2 ton truck is just what I wish mine looked like.  My vehicle is not so pretty now.)

An End to Our Mild Fall Weather

November 2, 2016

Milwaukee – Much of the United States and southern Canada have enjoyed mild temperatures since September.  Yes, there have been a few brief shots of cold and light snow east of the Rockies, but not many.  Many Canadian cities enjoyed the mild temperatures in October, too.  The only cities east of the Rockies to experience colder than average temperatures were Calgary and Edmonton.  Here is a chart of the October warmth:

City October 2016 Temp (°C) Normal October Temp (°C) Departure from Normal
Calgary 3.0 5.2 -2.2
Edmonton 1.2 3.8 -2.6
Montreal 9.7 8.5 1.2
Ottawa 8.6 8.0 .6
Quebec City 7.1 6.6 .5
Toronto 11.9 9.5 2.4
Winnipeg 6.6 5.0 1.6


In the United States, if you live outside of the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, you saw above average temperatures – in some places, near record warmth for the month.

Pacific Ocean Affects Keeping Weather Mild

The reason the United States and most of southern Canada has experienced this mild weather is a persistent flow off the Pacific Ocean.  Some of the energy in this flow has contained remnants of tropical systems from eastern Pacific typhoons.  The remnants of typhoon Songda was an example of this energy, when it hit the Pacific Northwest on October 13th.  You can read about that storm in this CNN article.

When the flow comes off the Pacific Ocean into North America, it transports two characteristics – mild air and plenty of moisture.  It results in impressive rain and snow for northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  Quite a bit of the moisture is captured as snowpack by the Cascades and Rockies. However, the mild temperatures continue to push east across the continent.  This pattern that transports pacific warmth and moisture looks like it is going to change.

Now, this isn’t going to happen right away.  In fact, this morning we are still in a pattern of mild, wet weather coming off the Pacific Ocean.  Here is the GFS model 500mb forecast/ analysis for early morning November 2nd.

Cold Air Locked in Northern Canada

Fig. 1 6Z 11/2/16 GFS 500MB

If you have never seen a map like this, it can be a little confusing.  The green arrow is over the Pacific Ocean and it represents the flow moving into Washington and British Columbia.  The text ‘wet’ is over Washington, Alberta and British Columbia.  The text ‘cold air’ is over Nunavut and the Northwest Territories of very northern Canada.  The text ‘warm to very warm’ is over the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes of the United States.  So, now that we have our bearings, this 500mb analysis shows cold air locked in northern Canada and Greenland.  To the south, the mild pattern continues.  In fact, the North American Ensemble Forecast System has most of North America very mild through mid-November.  Figure 2 shows temperature probabilities through November 17th for all of North America.

Above Avg Temps till Mid-november

Fig. 2 8 to 14 Day Temp Probabilities

                  The areas in dark red are near 100% confidence of above average temperatures between November 10th and 17th.  So, when is this mild weather pattern change going to happen and what can we expect?  Good rhetorical question.

Weather Models Point to Cold Coming Soon

Over the last several days, global forecast models – the GFS, Euro, CMC – and more importantly the Ensembles that run off of these computer models are showing a significant pattern change.  And when many or all of the trusted models are forecasting a similar event, at a similar time for several days consecutively, a forecaster has a high degree of confidence that event will verify.  So, what am I talking about?

I have two ensembles from two different models – the North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS) and the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS).  They are very effective at signaling changes in weather patterns.  These models excel at mid to longer range, larger events.  They do not excel with short term or mesoscale events – thunderstorms, rain, snowstorms.  Looking at forecast patterns out a week to 16 days is in their wheelhouse.

Fig. 3 NAEFS 500mb Analysis 00z 11/16/16           Fig. 4 GEFS 500mb Analysis 06z 11/16/16

If you compare figures 3 and 4 to the map in figure one, you can see some subtle changes that should have significant impacts in the weather by the middle of November.  The big change: the mean flow off the Pacific shifts well north into British Columbia.  In fig. 3, there is a ridge of high pressure along the Pacific coast that extends into Alaska.  To the east, a trough extends from the Canadian Prairies into the United States and east to the Atlantic Ocean.  This setup allows cold air in the northern latitudes to shift south.  In fig. 4, the amplitude of the western ridge and eastern trough are more pronounced.  If fig. 4 verifies, the intensity of the cold in the east increases.  What can we expect around November 15th and 16th?  As the western ridge builds, a cold front or clipper, will move south from Canada into the United States.  This first clipper will drop the above average temperatures to normal.  The longer the western ridge holds, the more clippers or cold fronts will drop south from Canada.  Each front will reinforce the cold air.  At this point, it is too early to know if this lasts 3 days or two weeks.  From November 16th through the 18th, the Canadian prairie cities of Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg can expect strong winds, snow and a drop in temperatures.  In the United States, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo can expect strong winds, a drop in temperatures and possible Lake Effect Snow.  The large cities of the east – Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Philadelphia, New York City and Quebec City – can expect rain, gusty winds and temps dropping to normal and slightly below normal.

It may not feel like it, but winter is coming.  Don’t be surprised that many areas east of the Rockies experience a significant change in the weather mid-November.  For some areas, this means snow and Lake Effect Snow.  It is still too early to predict how long this pattern sticks around.  Could it linger through Thanksgiving?  It is possible, but again, it is too early to predict.  In the meantime, do you have salt, shovels?  How is your snow blower running?  Do you have your snow removal contractor lined up for the winter?

Meteorologist Mark McGinnis is on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @fairskiesconsul