Credit: Dan Barnes |

Finally, some snow! Just an inch, but enough to double my morning commute. As I sat stopped dead in traffic, grinding my teeth and thinking, "People, this is Chicago, not Atlanta," the radio informed me of 12 spinouts on another expressway.

If you ask me, driver amnesia is the real threat of global warming.

But I digress.

Whether you anti-ice, plow and/or de-ice with your own crews or contract services, there are more resources than ever to get the job done with as little liability as possible.

Writing in Landscape and Irrigation’s October 2012 issue, Snowfighters Institute Executive Director Tammy Johnson says today’s contractors are no longer just a bunch of guys who plow snow; they’re professionals who manage risk for those they serve.

Recently formed by the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), the institute’s mission is to “forever pursue, research, and develop snow industry training.” In pursuit of that goal, the first entity fully dedicated to educating “snow and ice management professionals” offers something you might like as well: a series of deicing and liability seminars in May and June. You have to travel to Erie, Pa., and they’re pricey ($1,500 to $2,500). But limited enrollment ensures one-on-one interaction with presenters who include a lawyer who specializes in slip-and-fall claims and Snow Dragon melting system inventor John Allin.

Or there’s the American Public Works Association’s Snow Show April 7–10 in Charlotte, N.C. ($255 to $500 for non-members). Bring your agency’s winter maintenance plan to the full-day Winter Maintenance Supervisor Certificate Workshop. Or join 1,500 colleagues in learning about things like plow tracking without automatic vehicle location technology, how salt bounces and scatters, removing tree debris, investigating equipment accidents, and emergency road closure policies. You also can rub elbows with Excellence in Snow & Ice Control Award winners.

Not that this would sway your decision, but … Charlotte is home to NASCAR. There’s a reception at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and an optional tour of the Michael Waltrip Racing Shop with, weather and schedule permitting, a LIVE pit practice session.

SIMA’s annual conference and trade show is June 19-22 in Minneapolis (registration fee was not available at press time). The preconference activity is a three-part workshop that includes a hands-on demonstration of commonly used equipment at a local Caterpillar dealership.

Finally, here’s one tool that doesn’t require travel and is completely free: SIMA’s easy-to-use, one-page checklist for assessing prospective snow removal contractors. Sign up at their website.