What is the Best Time to Shovel Snow? [5 Signs It’s Time]

When deciding the best time to shovel snow, first check the forecast to see the quantity of predicted snowfall. If it will snow more than 5 inches (13 cm) but is not predicted to be a large storm, then it is best to shovel while the snow is still falling. Then, shovel again once the snowfall is done. If the snowfall is part of a storm, do not shovel until conditions are safe.

It is also best to shovel soon after the snow falls, so the snow does not have a chance to harden. Shovel during the late morning or early afternoon so the heat of the day can help melt some of the snow. If you can, spread a deicer on your driveway before it snows.

Best time to shovel snow

5 Ways to Tell the Right Time to Shovel Snow

Shoveling snow can be a lot of hard work. Moving several inches of snow is tiring, and shoveling at the wrong time makes the job even harder. Use these tips to choose the right time so that shoveling snow becomes a breeze.

Check How Much Snow Will Fall

Once the snow starts falling outside, check the weather for a prediction of snowfall volume in your area. If the snowfall is 5 inches (13 cm) or less, wait until the snow is done falling before you consider shoveling. However, if there are more than 5 inches of snow coming down, use our tips for shoveling while it is still snowing. Shoveling snow as it’s coming down helps keep the hard work to a minimum. It even helps you spend less time shoveling overall.

Stay Inside During Storms

If the snowfall outside is part of a large storm or blizzard, do not attempt to shovel the snow while it’s falling. High winds, extreme cold, and low visibility make shoveling dangerous. The danger of slipping and falling increases in stormy conditions. Additionally, shoveling the end of the driveway could be dangerous during a storm because a passing motorist or snowplow may not see you due to reduced visibility. This could result in you being struck by the vehicle. So, wait until the storm’s over until you get to work.

Don’t Procrastinate

Snow is easier to shovel the sooner it’s cleared. As snow sits, it compacts and hardens. This results in heavy, icy, or wet snow. Shoveling hardened snow is one of the worst winter chores. In contrast, fresh-fallen snow is fluffy and easy to scoop. So, don’t wait days to shovel. Whenever possible, shovel within 12–24 hours after it snows.

Use the Sun to Your Advantage

Daytime is the right time to shovel. Specifically, mid-morning through the afternoon. At the warmest point in the day, the sun can help melt snow and ice. This makes your job easier and reduces the risk of slipping on icy areas. Avoid shoveling snow early in the morning, in the twilight hours, or at night. These times of day are colder and more likely to be icy. Plus, clearing the end of your driveway in low light is dangerous, since you could be in the path of drivers who won’t see you until it’s too late.

Get Ahead of the Snow

With the right preparation, you can avoid shoveling snow altogether. When the weather forecast calls for snow, use our methods for keeping snow from sticking to your driveway. With the right deicer, you can melt snow as it falls. In cases of light snowfall, you can prevent the need to shovel entirely. Even if you do get heavier snow, a properly prepared driveway collects less snow and is far easier to clear by using the other tips on this list.

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How Late is Too Late to Shovel Snow?

Once the daylight has begun to fade, it’s too late to shovel snow. Gloomy winter days lower visibility, which only gets worse as the sun sets. If you start shoveling in the late afternoon, you may find yourself in total darkness before the job is done. This can expose you to extremely cold temperatures. Additionally, if you suffer an injury or a fall while shoveling in low light, it may take longer for someone to notice and assist you.

  • Once the sun has started setting, it’s too late to shovel snow.
  • Whenever possible, avoid shoveling snow in the dark or half-light hours (dawn and dusk).
  • Shoveling snow in the dark increases the risk of exposure to cold and collision with snow plows or other drivers.
  • Shovel snow during daylight hours whenever possible.

Removing snow with shovels or snow blowers can be dangerous in reduced light conditions. If a snow plow driver doesn’t spot you bending down to shovel in the dark, they may come too close to the end of your driveway and clip you with the blade of their plow. To prevent any sort of accident, shovel snow during daylight hours and wear reflective clothing to make yourself more visible.

When Should You Remove Snow From Your Driveway?

Using a snow shovel may seem like simple work, but shoveling heavy snow at the right time makes the job easier. Here’s how to choose the right time:

  • If the snowfall is over 5 inches (13 cm), plan to shovel while the snow is falling, to prevent heavy snow buildup.
  • If snowfall is part of a large storm, do not attempt to shovel while it is still snowing, even if it is a large snowfall.
  • Shovel snow within hours of snowfall whenever possible—snow becomes harder to shovel the longer it sits.
  • Shovel between mid-morning and mid-afternoon, when warm temperatures help to soften snow for easy removal.
  • Remove the need to shovel by deicing your driveway before snowfall.

These tips will help you choose the right time to shovel. Prioritize shoveling during or soon after a snowfall to make the job easier, but never put yourself at risk by shoveling during a storm or while it is dark outside.

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