Why did it take a week to clear Wichita's streets?

Published On: Feb 10 2014 04:11:18 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 10 2014 05:25:54 PM CST

By Monday afternoon many of Wichita's emergency routes were clear of snow and ice. The city says crews have been working to clear them since the first round of Winter weather dropped nearly 9 inches of snow Tuesday.

Viewers have been calling Eyewitness News for the past week wanting to know why the clean up is taking this long. Joe Pajor is Wichita's deputy director of public works, he says heavy snowfall followed by freezing temperatures have made cleaning up 1,500 miles of emergency routes especially tough.

"Last week's storm was very different from the typical Wichita weather. We had temperatures that were much lower following a significant nine inch snow event. Once that snow pack was created it was much more long lasting that what drivers in Wichita are used to," Pajor said.

In addition to the freezing cold the city's salt supply was below a third of its capacity. That means crews only had enough salt to treat emergency routes once. Pajor says that's why crews didn't lay down salt until Friday night when temperatures were expected to be the highest in days.

On Saturday Pajor says crews were out plowing and made the most significant headway on snow and ice since the storm on Tuesday.

Many viewers wrote in to ask why they saw city trucks around town with their plows up, instead of down and plowing. Pajor says plows don't work on the snow packed roads and they had to wait for melt to clear the snow.

"These are snow plows, they aren't designed to move earth. We have to wait on that melt to let the plows do their jobs. We had been plowing intermittently but there is only so much those plows can do," Pajor said.

Pajor says the forecast moving forward will help with any more snow removal. Temperatures should be above freezing by week's end and there is no precipitation in the immediate forecast.