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“That’s the one we prepare for:” Public works crews look back on historic April blizzard of 2018

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - This week marks the third anniversary of the historic April snow storm that dumped two feet of snow across northeast Wisconsin.

While we all have memories of what we were doing that day, those in public works served as a life line to keep the roads cleared for those who had to be out.

“The drifts were probably as high as the grader was,” said Todd Skaletski.

He had only been with Brown County Highway Department for three months when the April blizzard of 2018 dumped more than 24 inches of snow in some parts of northeast Wisconsin.

The event made him learn the skills of snow removal quickly.

“They [coworkers] told me I was going to be plowing snow, and said no I won’t be because I don’t have the experience, but then I got the phone call... then I got the experience,” said Skaletski.

“I had plows that never shut off for a week. One person would get out of the plow, another person would get in, that truck ran for a week straight,” said Paul Fontecchio, Brown County Highway Commissioner.

The April snow storm cost Brown County about $685,000 between labor, equipment and salting the roads.

Green Bay Public Works didn’t have cost estimates readily available, but the storm took a toll on city equipment and crews as well.

“We plowed the city twice that weekend,” said Chris Pirlot, director of the operations division for the city.

“It was wet heavy snow. Great for kids making snowballs, but not great for snow plowing, because one car drives over the fresh wet snow, and it packs it down in the wheel tracks and DPW, if we don’t have a road grader or front-end loader on that street, it’s very difficult for us to peel it up,” said Pirlot.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from April 2018, it’s to never assume winter is over.

“Don’t take your plows off your trucks too early, that’s always the challenge,” said Fontecchio.

While there were a hundreds of calls for minor crashes and cars getting stuck in the ditch, no fatal crashes were reported over the duration of the event.

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