Storm/Winter Road Patrol

Checking and cleaning culvert inlets to prevent blockage during storm runoff.

Purpose: Patrol during storm events provides immediate assessment of flood risk, clear blocked culvert entrances, and drainage ditches and close access (gates) to areas that are at risk.

Relative Effectiveness: No interviewee rated this treatment. Several interviewees indicated that storm patrol was a cost effective alternative to installing trash racks, or removing culverts.

Environmental/Implementation Factors: This treatment can include early warning systems such as radio-activated rain gauge or stream gauge alarms when flows are increasing. Storm patrols remove floating woody debris near culvert inlets and clean inlets after each storm event. Storm patrols can be activated during forecast events of weather which may trigger larger than normal water, sediment or woody debris flows.

Storm/Winter Road Patrol Implementation


To insure the normal function of road drainage, including burned area emergency stabilization and rehabilitation (ESR) treatments throughout the winter season.


On roads that are accessible during the winter season to equipment and hand crews, open culverts and clear obstructions to drainage.


In the burned area, between storms, find where soil and debris movement now threaten road drainage



Pitch fork
Large digging bar
Axe or pulaski
Tow chain with hooks


Service truck 4x4
Backhoe w/extendahoe
Dump truck 5 or 10 yard

When planning road patrols, divide the burn into areas or zones to help in determining the number of people needed to effectively cover the area. Lay out a map and identify the higher elevations versus the lower elevations and plan your strategy for access with respect to snow. Also, identify surfaced roads and non-surfaced roads to further decide on where the access will be.

Make sure work leaders and supervisors have knowledge of the types and locations of the rehabilitation treatments and know of any weaknesses in the system. There should be a communications plan and safety plan that is reviewed by the work leaders on a daily basis. Weather reports are a key element of the safety plan. Crews should not be sent out in the middle of a storm when winds and heavy precipitation are predicted.

Driving on wet roads where rutting will occur defeats the purpose of a road patrol. Walking short distances to specific sites is more prudent. Road patrols should never be carried out by a single person alone.

Road hazards discovered during road patrols should be immediately barricaded and reported.

COST (1992-97 costs)

Equipment Backhoe  $50.00/hr incl/operator
Labor $35.31/hr
Pickup truck 4x4 $9.51/hr
Supervision WS-9 $25.68/hr


Distance from site to staging area
Difficulty with access (ie. down logs and rocks blocking road)
Inclement weather (slows productivity, ie. putting on/off rubber boots)


Establish communications plan (radios and spare batteries)
Establish "Safety Officer" position and authority
Know your weather forecast and look out for hazards (ie. trees, high water, debris flows)
Drive based on the road conditions and not the perceived urgency of the task