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Snowy grounds under the Golden Dome

Winter is coming and to make it through the bitter cold and snowy months, you have to be prepared.

But how do you take care of what is a small city inside of a city?

Between students and employees, Notre Dame has over 8,500 people on campus so it takes time to prepare for the long winter months.

Patrick McCauslin says preparations begin early, “Winter time snow events usually come into play for us in July. That’s when we typically get out our salt order, for our road salt that we want to use for the winter season.”

But when temperatures start to plummet, salt starts to become less effective.

Patrick says they have a back up, “Along with the road salt, we also get liquid ice melter. We’ve had that for 20 years now or better. It’s a very valuable tool to have in your pocket. The weather conditions have to be right, it has to be cold, 25 degrees or colder for that liquid ice melter to work.”

Winters in Michiana need more than just salt to get by - our wintry precipitation consists of anything from powdery snow to freezing rain and everything in-between.

Crew Leader Chuck Henry says the heavy wet snow is the hardest to clean. “A couple inches of that is equivalent to eight inches of heavy lake effect. It just has so much more effect on the equipment, hydraulic lines break a lot easier with the heavy wet snow compared to the powdery lake effect snow.”

Winter is much more than just snow - the frigid cold takes its toll.

Tim Dyczko says the equipment takes a hit, “When you get really extreme temperatures metal become brittle. So things are more prone to break. The equipment has to work harder. The hydraulics don’t work as well like when we are talking extreme lows like ya know, zero, the single digits. It has a definite impact on our equipment.”

The good news is when things do start to break, Notre Dame is prepared. Lead Mechanic Todd Smith is ready, “We plan out for our snow events is we have everything fixed in 24 hours.”

It’s not just the equipment that takes a hit - for one of the best landscaped campuses in the country, plant life can suffer as well.

Tim Dyczko remember one winter specifically that was tough, “It was a very hard year for us for plant material on campus. We lost trees, we lost thousands of bushes, just because of the extreme temperatures.”

No matter what mother nature has in store - these crews have a plan - ready for wind, snow and whatever else winter blows their way.

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