State, county and city snowplows are ready to roll as the first significant storm of the season bears down on Wallowa County.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) plows were already pushing snow in response to Sunday night's first real snowfall of the season in the Wallowa Valley, with up to 3 inches on Highway 3 in the Flora area and on Highway 82 at Wallowa Lake.
"We've been on our winter shift since the middle of November," said Kent Bomberger, ODOT transportation maintenance manager for the Enterprise-Elgin section.
After a fall season Bomberger said was "very mild," winter appears to be making its late debut, with a winter storm and frigid temperatures forecast for this weekend.
Up until now, the ODOT crew has been concentrating on de-icing slick spots on corners, bridges and along the river with liquid de-icer, which has less danger of causing windshield damage.
There are three ODOT trucks with plows based in Enterprise and one in Flora, with four morning drivers and four on the afternoon shift assigned during the winter. In the case of a snow or ice storm, they just add hours to their shift to cover up to 24 hours, Bomberger said. In the wake of a storm, plows head out from the shop in Enterprise toward Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa River Canyon on Highway 82.
At the county level, Sunday night's snowfall was described as "just a skiff" by county public works director Russ McMartin. McMartin said that no plowing of county roads has been necessary - yet.
However, with a storm front headed this way, the county road department is ready for its first winter action at the end of the mild fall.
"All our equipment is ready. The wings are on all our graders," McMartin said.
Wallowa County has seven graders scattered around the county - one each in Troy, Flora and Imnaha, and four based in Enterprise.The major county roads, such as Hurricane Creek Road, are the first to get plowed,along with school and mail routes.
McMartin said he is meeting with Wallowa County emergency manager Paul Karvoski this week to make sure they are prepared for this season's first real storm.
The cities are also geared up for the arrival of winter.
After being caught a little off guard by last winter's much earlier arrival, Wallowa's two public works employees made sure they was ready for the season.
"We've have our snow plows on for the past month," said Wallowa City Recorder Lori Waters.
Wallowa is equipped with one truck and one small tractor with snow plows on them.
"We're all ready," said Enterprise City Administrator Michelle Young. "Our trucks are converted to snow plows."
She said the Enterprise Public Works department always has someone on call, and more employees can be called in if necessary.
"If we have a snowstorm, whatever it takes," she said. "They'll show up in town at 4 a.m. to get the main streets (business district and school routes) plowed."
Property owners are reminded that keeping sidewalks in front of their businesses and homes clear of snow and ice in all the cities in the county is their responsibility.