You should shovel snow while it’s still snowing if the snowfall will exceed 5 inches (13 cm) in depth. If snow will be falling for a period longer than 12 hours, it is also best to shovel while the snow is still falling. This prevents snow from piling up deeply. Shoveling while the snow is still coming down also makes shoveling easier, prevents snow from forming an icy bottom layer, and allows you to spread de-icer that will melt incoming snow as it falls.
When Should You Shovel Snow While It’s Still Snowing?
If the weather report says that more than 5 inches of snow (13 cm) will fall, shovel while it’s still snowing. This will keep your shoveling job light and easy. Shoveling more than 5 inches of snow at once can be a strenuous job, so it’s best to tackle snow shoveling during and after a heavy snowfall.
- If more than 5 inches (13 cm) of snow is in the forecast, shovel while snowing.
- If snowfall will last for more than 12 hours, shovel while it’s snowing.
- Avoid shoveling during freezing rain, extreme winds, or storm conditions.
If snowfall is predicted to last for more than 12 hours, shovel while the snow is still falling. This will prevent snow from compacting and turning into ice on your driveway and paths. Pay close attention to your weather report when heavy snow is predicted. Avoid going outside to shovel in high winds, freezing rain, or extreme cold. It’s always best to stay safe indoors when conditions are hazardous outside.
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5 Benefits of Shoveling Snow While It’s Still Falling
The aftermath of a snowstorm can be a huge chore to deal with. Heavy, wet snow can be hard to shovel, and the work can be very tiring. Here are the top reasons to grab your snow shovel while the powder is still coming down:
Snow removal is heavy work. A cubic foot of snow can weigh upwards of 20 pounds (9 kilos). By shoveling when the snow is still falling, you can tackle the snow layer when it is powdery, fresh, and only a few inches deep. Shoveling during snowfall is lighter work that goes much faster and easier than shoveling a deep layer of compacted snow. So, if you shovel during and after snowfall, you’ll actually spend less time shoveling than if you tried to tackle deep snow all at once.
Less Ice Buildup
As snow falls, the upper layers insulate and compact the lower layer. This often leads to a hard, icy layer underneath the snow. This ice layer is hazardous to walk on and very difficult to remove. But, if you shovel while the snow is still falling, the snow won’t form this icy layer. You’ll be able to scoop the powder aside and have a clear driveway that is safe for walking and driving.
Perfect Opportunity to Spread De-Icer
De-icer works best when it is spread on concrete, not on top of snow. So, even if you didn’t get a chance to spread a de-icer on your driveway before the snow started falling, shoveling while the snow is falling gives you the perfect chance to spread ice melt. Simply clear away the thin layer of snow that has fallen, and then use our tips for melting ice on your driveway. By spreading a good de-icer, you’ll create a barrier that melts snow as it lands. This means you may not even need to shovel again later.
Each year, Americans suffer 11,500 injuries related to snow removal. By shoveling snow as it comes down, you can greatly reduce your risk of injury. You’re less likely to strain your back or shoulder if you shovel a thin layer of snow. Also, since you’re shoveling before an icy layer has formed underneath the snow, you’re far less likely to slip and fall.
Prevents You From Being “Snowed In”
Shoveling snow as it falls keeps you from getting trapped by a deep snowfall. Whether you have to go to work in a few hours or just want to be able to run errands as soon as the snow stops, shoveling early makes things easier. Instead of battling for hours to dig your car out of deep snow, shoveling during a snowfall means you can quickly get yourself and your car out and onto plowed roads.
How Early is Too Early to Shovel Snow?
Do not begin shoveling snow until 2 inches (5 cm) of snow have fallen. If the snowfall has just begun, you don’t need to rush to get your shovel. Allow 2–3 inches (5–7.5 cm) of snow to accumulate, then get to work. Shoveling when a very small amount of snow has fallen will go quickly, but if the snow is still coming down it will undo your work.
- Wait until at least 2 inches (5 cm) of snow has fallen before you start shoveling mid-snowfall.
- Shoveling too soon won’t remove enough snow to be effective.
- Do not shovel when a snowstorm is raging—this can be dangerously windy and cold.
- Wait until the wind calms before you begin to shovel.
If a snowstorm has just begun and winds are high, do not begin shoveling. Working to remove snow at the height of a storm can be dangerous. High winds can knock you off balance, and the cold of the wind chill can subject you to very low temperatures. Wait until the storm quiets down before you start shoveling.
Should You Shovel Snow During a Blizzard?
Do not shovel snow during blizzard conditions. The extreme cold, high winds, and low visibility of a blizzard make shoveling dangerous. Plus, trying to shovel and fling snow during blizzard winds can throw the snow back in your face, or into the area you were working to clear.
- Never shovel snow when there are blizzard or winter storm conditions ongoing.
- High winds and low temperatures make working outside during a blizzard very dangerous.
- Low visibility during a blizzard puts you in danger of passing snow plows if you are shoveling.
Not only are you more likely to be exposed to extreme cold and hazardous wind during a blizzard, you are also endangered by snow plows. A plow operator may not be able to see you during a blizzard, and you may not be able to hear an oncoming plow over the wind. This could lead to a plow hitting you or dumping snow onto you as you shovel the end of your driveway. So, it’s best to wait for better visibility and low wind before you shovel snow.
Is it a Good Idea to Shovel Snow While It’s Snowing?
If you are considering shoveling snow while it’s still snowing outside, keep these facts in mind:
- Shoveling snow while it’s still snowing makes snow removal much easier.
- You should shovel falling snow any time the forecast predicts more than 5 inches (13 cm) of snowfall.
- If snow is predicted to fall for more than 12 hours, shovel while the snow is still falling.
- Wait until 2 inches (5 cm) of snow have fallen, then begin shoveling.
- You are at lower risk of injury if you shovel periodically as the snow comes down.
- Shoveling snow as it falls helps prevent hazardous ice buildup and keeps you from being snowed in.
- It’s a good idea to spread de-icer as you clear falling snow, to prevent snow buildup.
- Do not shovel falling snow in high winds, blizzard conditions, or any situation where visibility is low.
- Wait for a snowstorm to quiet down and wind speeds to slow before you start shoveling.
These tips will keep you safe as you shovel falling snow. You’ll soon find out that shoveling a few inches of snow multiple times throughout a snowfall actually takes less time and effort overall than shoveling a lot of deep snow all at once.