Average Snowfalls for a typical Chicago winter

It’s budget season for condo and Home Owner Associations.  And it’s nearly snow season as well.  One of the great conundrums facing condo and Home Owner Associations is how to budget for snow removal.snowy 2110 ohio

Some companies offer snow removal services for a fixed cost.  But Your Guide’s advice is that those fixed cost contracts usually cost more than their worth.

But how does an association know how much to budget for snow removal costs?  Here’s a handy guide courtesy of Tom Skilling at the Chicago Tribune and WGN TV.

On average, Chicago receives at least a half-inch of snow 17 times per snow season.  Snow storms in the range of 1 to 3 inches occur about 7 times;  4 to 6 inches, once; more than 10 inches, about once every other year.

A note of caution:  The number of storms that might occur in any given snow season varies greatly from year to year.  The extreme winter of 1978-1979 put down 10 snows in excess of 4 inches and a season total of about 89.7 inches.

At the association where Your Guide lives, we tell our snow removal contractor not to come out until snow reaches 2 inches.  Over 1/2 inch but less than 2 inches, the contractor puts down salt.  The salt application costs our community around $850.  A snowfall from 2 inches to 5 inches costs about $2,300.  Bigger snowfalls cost more.

In reality, our snow costs should come in at $25,000.  We have a budget for $35,000.  That’s $10,000 in extra play in case the weather is exceptionally bad in a given year.  Last year was insane, and we even blew the budget.  But there’s no way you can adequately prepare for a wild winter like last year’s.  In the case of a crazy storm season, you simply have to ask the residents if they’d like the Association to cut back a bit?  Or pay to cover the extra expenses?  Either way works depending on the desires of the residents.

Now you can do the math:
  • How much will your contractor charge for a light snow or a salt application?
  • How much for a snow removal in the 2 to 5 inch range?
  • How much for a snow removal in the 5 to 11 inch range?
  • How much for more than a foot of snow?
Multiplied by:
  • 17 x the low cost (or zero if you can live without pushing this snowfall)
  • 7 x the price for 2-5 inches
  • 2 x the price for 6-11 inches (for good measure)
  • 2 x the price for a foot or more (for good measure)
  • Add 30% so you have a fudge factor.

Piece of cake!

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