Snow Snake Performance Monitoring: FHWA-WY-09/01F
A recent study, “Three-Dimensional Roughness Elements for Snow Retention” (FHWA-WY-06/04F) (Tabler 2006), demonstrated positive evidence for the effectiveness of Snow Snakes, a new type of snow fence suitable for use within the highway right-of-way.
Snow Snakes are wire frames covered with a continuous extruded plastic fabric and aptly named for their reptilian appearance. This study evaluates the effectiveness of using Snow Snakes as a viable means to reduce road ice formed by blowing snow originating within the highway right-of-way. The study was initially scheduled for completion by the fall of 2007.
Mild winter conditions necessitated a contract extension through the fall of 2008. Mild conditions continued allowing only three site observations with blowing snow observed only during the Feb. 6, 2008 observation.
Snow drift depths and lengths were measured along transects intersecting various snow fence types and configuration; this data was used to calculate trapped snow volumes and water equivalents.
During the December 31, 2007 to February 6, 2008 observation period, Snow Snakes trapped and prevented approximately 622 tons of snow from potentially interacting with the roadway surface to form slush and ice. Due to insufficient field data, obtaining conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of using Snow Snakes as a viable means to reduce road ice formed by blowing snow originating within the highway right-of-way will require additional study.