Nothing is more beautiful than the first snowfall of the year with fresh white powder blanketing the earth. It’s simultaneously an ethereal and grounding experience. That beauty can quickly fade though once we realize what it means for our roads, work, or daily necessities. At Rappaport, snow days are an important factor when planning for the winter season. Property managers must be prepared to handle this inclement weather for their various properties so that people can still come and safely shop in our centers whether that’s for extra cold-weather clothing, groceries, or anything else.
A snow event begins for us with the collaboration of the property management team to review the forecasts and then confer with their snow contractors to prepare for the upcoming storm. No two storms are the same. Each property is impacted differently by the snow. Properties to the north can normally expect lower temperatures and higher accumulations, but Mother Nature can be fickle. In the Metro Area, it is not unusual to find neighboring counties with different snow forecasts. Often the storms come in waves and each wave can deliver a different type of snow, thus delivering a different challenge. In short, snow management in the Metro Area is always an adventure.
Rappaport’s property management department has designed specific snow plans for each property. Location is the prime element that will play a part in the snow expectations for the property. Plowing plans and snow storage plans are developed and the topography of each center is also considered when creating these plans. Treatment for different surfaces is incorporated in the scope of work. Snowplow phasing is developed to address essential operations at the property. The snow contractor’s experience is also utilized to create an optimum snow plan for each property. The snow contractor also sets snow flags to identify site fixtures that need protection.
Jacqueline Camplisson, Senior Property Manager, says, “Snow removal is one of the maintenance items that can be difficult to manage. When it is done well it seems simple and when it done poorly it can be a disaster. An understanding of the property and an experienced snow removal contractor is half the battle. The hardest type of storms to manage are the ones that have a fluctuating weather forecast and have elements of sleet and ice. Managing the plowing and treatment applications while keeping in mind fiscal responsibility and risk management for the property can become a balancing act.”
Alicia Hayes, Property Manager, explains, “Snow days start prior to the first snowfall. When snow is in the forecast, Property Managers remain in contact with each property’s snow vendor and monitor any changes for that area to the forecast to ensure that the centers remain as safe and clear as possible. After the weather starts, depending on the Property Manager, they either obtain regular updates from the vendor or for me I physically go out and check each one of my sites personally to ensure that they meet Rappaport’s standards for handling snow.”
Christina Cisneros, Property Manager, says, “snow removal can differ from center to center, but I have my vendors start clearing the roads and sidewalks once a depth of two inches has accumulated. Ice storms, when predicted, are treated with a zero-tolerance policy and will be managed with the necessary treatments at the start of the storm and throughout. My two vendors typically plan a week ahead and monitor the weather hourly in preparation for a storm.”
Clearly, it’s no easy task to keep shopping centers up and running during the winter season when the weather can be unpredictable and more difficult than usual. With the collective cooperation and assistance of everyone involved—from property managers to lease administrators to tenants and more—a shopping center can be prepared for anything and everything that may come its way. With safety as the main priority, the intention is to be aware of inclement weather, stay on top of it, and always keep our shopping centers as safe as possible for anyone and everyone who may be there.