Good Question: What Is A Winter Storm Worth?

Written by Alan Gionet
DENVER (CBS4) – Handling big storms like last week’s can get expensive with the plowing, the electric problems, and the cleanup. But there’s also money to be made.

Ready or not, here it is. The plows are rolling and the drivers are crawling along at glacial speeds, but look at the bright side. Snow makes the world go around in Colorado.

Pat Kennedy is an engineering supervisor with Denver Public Works.

“During the week when we already have guys working their 40 hour shift, a storm will cost about $75,000 per 24 hour period,” Kennedy said.

That goes up to about a $100,000 a day on the weekends. And don’t even think about that terrible period in 2006 and 2007 when there was storm after storm.

“The storm of 2006, 2007, which around here we call blizzard palooza, our crews were running 12-hour shifts for almost seven weeks straight,” Kennedy said.

It was pricy. Denver International Airport closed for 45 hours. It cost United Airlines $30 million and Frontier Airlines $14 million.

When Interstate 70 closes, the Colorado Department of Transportation has figured in recent years the lost sales total $600,000 an hour. But get the road open and the ski areas love it, particularly when people around the country see it.

History’s most famous precedent — the nationally-televised Broncos versus Packers Snow Bowl in 1984 in near white-out conditions. That got people making reservations.

Some of the plowing is a money maker — just ask Larry Martinson about his plowing company.

“Oh, it’s definitely good for us,” Martinson said.

They pull in millions a year — and pay out as well.

“On a good snow, maybe 2,500 people working out there in the field for us when we get a good one,” Martinson said.

Denver Public Works says the cost of clearing snow in a typical year is about $8 for every person in the city.


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