Snow Removal


The annual snow removal plan or "Snow Book" is a detailed description of the protocol and process by which Landscape Services keeps campus safe and open during the long Michigan winters. The success of the snow book can be seen every winter when the WMU campus is open and accessible in time for staff and students to get to their campus destination. Work on the snow book starts soon after the previous winter ends, by evaluating and adjusting plans to the changes in campus schedules and facilities. With all the new construction, staff, equipment, venues and events, the snow book must be modified to provide our customers with the safest campus experience even during the worst weather. This publication is a collaborative effort combining extensive information from administration, dining, residence life, entertainment venues, athletics, custodial and maintenance, and requires many hours of effort from many staff to complete. The detailed maps that make up this publication are updated annually and require the skilled work of our GIS staff and students.


WMU 2020-21 Snow Book (snow removal plan)

Tim Holysz, former director of Western Michigan University Landscape Services, presented a PowerPoint program about WMU's snow removal protocol for a Midwest snow and ice removal conference in Madison, Wisconsin. A PDF copy of this presentation is available for download.

WMU snow removal presentation

Snow removal procedure

I. Streets—20-plus lane miles

Campus streets have continual coverage for snow removal. Contracted heavy equipment operators are scheduled to accommodate 24-hour coverage, seven days a week, throughout the snow season. Coverage of the streets is prioritized, with ring roads given first priority and all interior roads next, thus opening the heavily trafficked roads first.

II. Parking lots—100-plus acres

Covered by the same contracted staff and equipment as the streets, lots are divided into five priorities:

A. Faculty-staff parking lots.
B. Primary visitor lots.
C. Dining service loading docks and courts.
D. Student commuter lots.
E. Campus apartments and residence hall lots.

III. Walks and steps—39 miles of walk; 200,000 square feet of step, ramp and entry surfaces

The campus is divided into three regions for purposes of sidewalk snow removal, as well as for landscape maintenance throughout the year. During the snow season, seven employees work in these regions operating light equipment, i.e., 4x4 with front plow and sander, skid loaders and tractors.

These light equipment operators work weekdays from 3 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. There is additional coverage during weekday afternoons, as well as during day-shift hours on weekends.

The remainder of the regional crews is responsible for clearing access ramps, steps and other areas that are inaccessible for light equipment. They work Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Priority is given to access ramps and entries. Weekend and evening snow removal of ramps, steps and walks inaccessible to light equipment is covered for emergency; on excessive conditions, additional staff are called in on an overtime basis.

IV. Special needs

Landscape Services understands the special needs of students with disabilities and the difficulty of maneuvering over snow and ice. Effort is made to contact all disabled students, faculty and staff to accommodate their needs.

V. Emergencies

Emergency road and parking lot snow and ice removal is a collaborative effort by WMU Landscape Services and the Department of Public Safety. Landscape Services handles road and lot snow removal during normal business hours via KLS, our snow removal contractor. Contacting KLS for road and lot snow removal during non-business hours (weekends, evenings and nights) is the responsibility of the Department of Public Safety.

This year we have again contracted with a weather forecasting service to give us specific data on our area in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We also have direct weather information access through a satellite link into the Landscape Services office at WMU's Physical Plant on East Campus. We believe that this will give us an additional edge to fight the snow and ice that the weather conditions bring us.