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Winter Tips

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Grader plowing snow off of the road during snowstorm with line of cars behind.

Bend is a high-elevation mountain town that often sees more than 20 or 30 inches of snow in a winter. Here are some tips to help you stay safe, get informed and get ready!


Bend is a 3,623-foot-elevation town known for great downhill and Nordic skiing. That means we get snow! Average snowfall is more than 33 inches of snow in a winter. During the 2016-2017 season, we received nearly 60 inches!

Storms vary in severity from a couple of inches to more than a foot. The severity of snow and road conditions also can vary depending on which part of town you live in.

It takes some effort to maintain your lifestyle with that kind of weather, so it is very important to be prepared.

Get the resources and supplies you need on hand before you’re snowed in. It’s never too soon to make some phone lists, find your snow tires and buy snow shovels and roof rakes.


Winter driving can be tricky. As for our roads, the City has a winter plan that prioritizes passage for emergency vehicles and on the major roads that help keep our community functioning.

Please take a look at the Streets Department's Snow FAQs for more information.

Verify Latest Road Conditions

Before traveling on roadways, verify the latest road conditions, road closures and congestion spots. A great tool for this is

New to Winter Driving?

Drivers need the experience and equipment to drive safety in Bend during the winter months. Deschutes County offers a great “learn how to drive” training that’s helpful for those lacking winter experience.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) also offers a helpful Winter Driving Guide.

Many Bend drivers use traction tires to get where they need to go. Visit ODOT's traction tires page for more information.

Parked cars buried by snow on the side of the road


Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a safe location and off the street during snow storms if possible. Parking can actually impede snow plows and make roadways narrower, sometimes impassable to emergency vehicles.

Emergency Snow Zone Parking Restrictions

The Streets and Operations Department has a plan for how we should deal with certain problematic streets where on-street parking during particularly heavy snowfalls have contributed to increasingly narrow and sometimes impassable roads. Please see the Emergency Snow Zones maps on the Winter Street Operations page for more information.

Snow Emergency Notifications

Sign up below for Snow Emergency Notifications.

You can also check back here on the City website, social media sites, TV and radio news.

If your vehicle is buried and cannot be moved:

If your vehicle is buried in snow in the right-of-way and cannot be moved, make every attempt to periodically clear off built up snow. Pile snow away from the right-of-way and as far back from storm drains. Plows cannot always judge a vehicle vs. a large snow berm. Do your part in removing obstacles that may be in the way of the plows.

Doing Business in Downtown?

Don’t forget there’s a parking garage if you need to park while you’re downtown. Parking in the garage at 61 NW Oregon Avenue is free for three hours and you can keep your windshield from getting buried in snow while you’re out!


The City of Bend snow plow operators take pride in clearing the streets on their routes as quickly and thoroughly as possible. We strive to keep traffic moving during extreme weather conditions and travel will be limited. We ask the community to drive cautiously, safely and do not follow closely behind nor pass the snowplows.

How Does the City Prioritize Streets to Plow and Sand?

Staff prioritizes plowing and sanding on the highest-use streets that accommodate the most drivers, major employment areas, schools and transit routes.

During a big snow storm, City officials will consider whether to call contractors to help City snowplow crews, based on a variety of variables including the weather forecast. Contractors are typically used to help clear local, residential streets.

For more information and a map of the priority plowing and sanding zones, please see the Street Priority Levels section on the Streets Department's Winter Operations page.

Snow Berms

Do not let children play in snow berms near roads! Encourage children to play and build their "snow forts" in the back/front yard or on private property and NOT in the right-of-way snow/ice berms. Plows cannot always see children!

Minimize potential for snow berms in front of your driveway. To do so, clear a wide apron in front and to the right of your driveway or walkway (when facing your property from the street). This allows snow that the plow has accumulated to drop off before it reaches your driveway.

If you believe plows have missed your street, please fill out a Service Request or call the Streets Department at (541) 323-5980.


Many of our neighbors rely on a clear sidewalk to get to and from work, school or bus stops. To help keep our sidewalks safe and passable for your neighbors during winter snow storms, it is the responsibility of property owners to shovel sidewalks that border your property.

Snow removal guides and helpful tips

Tips From Some Old-Timers:

Fire hydrant that has had the snow shoveled out from around it
  1. Shovel snow before it gets packed down or endures a freeze-thaw cycle, because it gets a lot harder to remove if you wait.
  2. DO NOT move snow into the street. It could potentially be plowed right back onto the areas you just cleared. Deposit snow on the front yard or in areas away from the street and sidewalks.
  3. While you’re out there, don’t forget to shovel out the fire hydrant. In the event of a house fire, firefighters should spend those precious minutes protecting your house, not shoveling out the fire hydrant. Help them protect your property by keeping hydrants clear. Check out this easy-to-use interactive map to assist you in locating hydrants, should they become covered in snow:
Fire hydrant icon.
Rooftop covered in a foot and a half of snow.


Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

Property owners are responsible for protecting their pipes from freezing. Water pipes can freeze in mere hours with sub-freezing weather, especially if they're exposed to cold air or drafts.

To help prevent an expensive water pipe break:

  • Disconnect water hoses from outside faucets and protect faucets with an insulated cover.
  • During extended sub-freezing cold periods, open cabinets in low-heat areas where plumbing is located.
  • Install insulation blocks in crawl space vents.
  • Check pipes near exterior walls and in crawl spaces. Add insulation if they are exposed.
  • Set the thermostat at a minimum of 55° during cold weather, even if the house is vacant.
  • Winterize all irrigation systems.
  • Snow on the ground insulates underground plumbing better than no snow.
  • Keep a plumber's number handy!

If you suspect a frozen or damaged water meter, call the Utility Department at (541) 317-3000 ext 2.

Remove Snow from Your Roof

Safely removing the snow from your roof is an important way to protect your home after a big snowstorm.

Snow, melting from heat escaping from your roof, can refreeze at the edge of the roof as an ice dam, which forces subsequent snowmelt under the roofing and into your house.

Snow adds a tremendous weight to the roof, and over time, many snowstorms can seriously weaken the structure.

When you have a snow load and frozen roof drains and gutters, any further precipitation will remain on the roof and add to the weight.

Deep snow on a roof can actually cover gas appliance vents, such as water heater flues. You will want to ensure that they are totally unburied and able to function normally.

Going up on a slippery roof without adequate knowledge, experience or equipment is very hazardous. It is all too easy to fall and sustain serious injury…however, you can also hire a licensed and bonded professional with the experience and equipment to operate on heights. Roofing contractors, window washers and arborists are generally prepared to handle this job. Making arrangements BEFORE a storm would be very wise.

It is wise to have a snow rake, so you can pull much of the snow off the roof from the ground, or even from a step ladder. Snow rakes usually have an extendable pole, so you can reach pretty far up the roof.

Move Snow Away from the House

Move built up snow away from the base of your house, for several reasons:

  • Eliminate a source of mold, mildew and paint destruction
  • Clear foundation vents so that they can function properly
  • Decrease chance of water leaking into the basement or under the structure
  • Place snow in your yard to pre-irrigate lawn for the spring!

Clear Snow from Storm Drains

When the snow finally melts, all that water has to go somewhere, and it will follow the easiest pathway downhill.

If you can locate the street storm drain nearest your house and clear away the snow and ice, you will reduce the pooling and the risk of creating a skating rink in your yard. The City provides an easy-to-use interactive map. Zoom in on the map to find the storm drains (blue squares) near you.


Red Cross Winter Storm Safety
Emergency Alerts Through Deschutes County 911
Code Enforcement Services
Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO)
School Bus & Public Transportation
Volunteer Program
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