DENVER — Plowzilla, Darth Blader and Snowtorious B.I.G. are just some of the Colorado Department of Transportation plows that were on Colorado highways clearing snow Wednesday.
When enough snow falls, the city of Denver also sends out plows. They do not have the catchy nicknames, but at least they show up on residential streets. Prior to 2017, Denver required a forecast with a foot of snow or more before plows would make a pass on residential streets.
"What we found in 2006 and 2007, is we had a series of storms where we had snow piling up followed by really cold temperatures and we had very deep ice ruts," said Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn.
Instead of investing in ice breaker trucks, Denver changed its requirements for when a snowplow would deploy. For five years now, Denver uses a less restrictive criteria.
"What we do now is we look at each storm and we say, 'How much snow is going to fall and what are the temperatures afterwards?'" said Kuhn.
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When there is snow forecasted followed by cold temperatures, like Wednesday, the city of Denver dispatches residential plows; those are pickups with a plow on the front.
"They're also helpful in preventing deep ice ruts," said Kuhn. "We felt that they could do what they do best, which is to provide a path to the main streets and prevent deep ice ruts, so they did go out in this storm. That's how we look at each storm now."
And you can look at each storm through the city of Denver's plow tracker website. If the website asks for a username and password, just hit cancel.
The city's plow tracker website shows where the "Big" and "Residential" plows have been. What you see is delayed 15 minutes.
"We did intentionally create a 15-minute delay," said Kuhn. "We created this delay to ensure they are safe, so that basically people weren't tracking down the plows, and potentially doing harm."
That makes this next part kind of awkward.
We spent Wednesday looking for the plows to see if what was shown on the plow tracker was accurate.
However, instead of looking at the icon and being able to find the plow in real time, we had to find a plow and then watch the site for 15 minutes to see if it accurately notated where the plow had been.
Spoiler alert: it was accurate.
"What we're depending on is GPS technology," said Kuhn.