Articles Relating To Guests & Visitors

10 Tips To Improve Your Guests’ Winter Success

By sharing the following information with your guests and tenants you may help them to better enjoy their winter mountain experience:

  1. Always check the weather forecast and road conditions before you travel. Be prepared to sit tight and adjust your plans if travel looks hazardous.
  2. Rent a 4×4 or all-wheel drive car when you come to the Sierra in the winter. This one thing will make your stay more enjoyable and less stressful.
  3. Carry tire chains, a shovel, blankets, snacks and water in case you’re stuck on the highway in a storm.
  4. Park your car in the garage if possible. If not, pull your car into your driveway as far as possible and park to one side or the other. This will allow your snow removal company to clear as much of your driveway as possible.
  5. You may have to shovel to get your car into or out of your driveway or garage. While we provide the bulk of the snow removal, shoveling is just a fact of life in the winter.
  6. All vehicles must be parked in your driveway. Any vehicle parked on the road during the winter will be towed.
  7. Leave an interior light on to let your snow removal company know that your house is occupied. This helps to ensure that your driveway is cleared as early and as frequently as possible.
  8. Go grocery shopping first. Make sure that you have food to sustain you and your family if you become snowbound.
  9. Keep firewood, toys, sleds, dog tethers, garden hoses, lumber and any other obstacles out of your driveway when it is snowing. These items will damage snow removal equipment, delay your service and could be costly to you.
  10. Daily start times for driveway snow removal are dictated by snowfall accumulation. Because storms are unpredictable the timing of your driveway clearing may vary from day to day.

Factors That Drive Our Snow Removal Start Time


We take our responsibility to provide you with the best winter home access seriously. When making our decision to commence snow removal operations we take the following factors into consideration:

  • How to provide the best access given snowfall forecast;
  • How to keep our operators and equipment safe;
  • How to limit our liability and reduce our risk exposure.

We only have one crew of snow removal operators. We do not operate a separate day and a night shift. Among the other factors listed below, one of the considerations we take into account is how to maximize our snow clearing benefit given the storm forecast. For example, it may not be optimal to start clearing at 3 inches of snow when we can wait a few hours and simultaneously clear 6 inches or more of snow and Town berms.


Clearing driveways is hazardous. Our job requires each of our equipment operators to back into traffic hundreds of times each day, often in icy, low visibility conditions. Every one of our vehicle collisions occur during high traffic periods. Of the four collisions we were involved in during the ‘18/’19 winter all four occurred after 7:00 am. For the safety of our operators, and whenever possible, we prefer to conduct our snow clearing operations du

ring the middle of the night when vehicle traffic is limited.


Not only are collisions dangerous, they’re also expensive. If we cause an accident we either pay out-of-pocket for minor vehicle damage or we submit the claim to our insurance carrier if a damage is significant. Either way, our costs increase when we’re involved in vehicle accidents. One of the ways that we try to limit our costs and reduce our overhead is to limit our risk of accident exposure by avoiding work during the busiest and most hazardous times of the day.


Additional Info: Factors That Impact Snow Removal Timing


Your Role In The Snow Removal Partnership


What Elements Does:


When we receive 3 to 4 inches of snow or more from a storm we clear your driveway from the street to a safe distance from your snow poles, garbage can enclosure, vehicles in your driveway and home. We try to clear to within about  6” to 12” from your snow poles and about 12” to 18” from your vehicles, home or other obstacles. Throughout the season, we will clear about 95 to 98% of all snow that falls on your driveway.


What You Need To Do:

  • Clear snow from your driveway when we receive less than 3 to 4 inches;
  • Clear the snow in front of your garbage can enclosure to allow the trash collection service to pick up your garbage;
  • Clear the snow at your garage door that we can’t clear;
  • Clear the snow from your walkway and entry;
  • Address any ice buildup on your driveway that we can’t scrape off;
  • At times you will need to deal with the berm created when the Town clears the roads.

Here are some of the tools and services that we recommend to help you deal with good ol’ Mother Nature:

  • A good grain scoop-type shovel for lifting and moving snow. I like the Tuffy shovel from Poly Pro Tools because it is a one piece, unbreakable design;
  • A good pusher shovel. The best one that I’ve used is the PolarTuff from Yo-Ho Quality Tools;
  • A snowblower. Honda is the gold standard in snowblowers but less expensive models are available locally at both Sears and Mountain Hardware. Sears sells a Husquvarna snowblower for $849;
  • Hire a snow shoveling service or property management company to clear these areas if you are unable.

Snow removal is a partnership between Elements, the Town of Truckee and you. We all have an important role to play. Working together we can effectively manage snow, even in the biggest winters.

Winter Tires Make Driving In The Snow Safer

Consumer Reports tests consistently show that winter tires deliver better grip to start in snow and stop on icy surfaces. They offer an extra margin of safety and performance over all-season and all-terrain tires.

If you have to drive in snowy conditions, winter tires out-perform most all-season and all-terrain tires with better stopping and starting ability. They have a more aggressive tread pattern and are made from a softer rubber compound. The softer compound allows the tread to squash around the snow, compact it, and then toss it out as the tire rotates. They are good choices for all cars, whether front, rear, or all-wheel drive.

Winter tires can easily be identified by a mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall. Studless winter/snow tires typically have many slits in the tread acting as biting edges and a tread compound that stays pliable in cold temperatures. By contrast, all-terrain tires can harden in freezing temperatures, which affects performance on icy and snowy roads.

Some winter tire models can be studded for extra grip in icy conditions, though they can be noisy and sometimes leave scratch marks in driveways. For the added performance in extreme weather, winter grip comes with concessions of shorter treadwear and compromise of handling and grip on cleared roads.

Debris In Driveways May Cost Your More Than Just Delays

When we suck up an item that was left in the driveway and covered with snow it impacts our ability to deliver timely snow removal service to our paying clients. Almost every snow clearing shift we have to cut firewood, floor mats, shovels, sleds, garden hose, etc from our tractors.

We lose at least an hour of snow clearing productivity each time this happens. The best case scenario is that we can perform an in-field fix and get the tractor back on its route within the hour. The worst case is that a part breaks in the snowblower, it takes us over an hour to get another tractor back on route, and it costs thousands of dollars in parts and labor to repair.

Accidents happen. We realize that this is life in snow removal with rotary snowblowers. But if this trend continues to increase we may have to start charging homeowners for our time and parts to fix our equipment. Our preference is to ask you to be diligent about educating your guests, family members and short term rental tenants on the importance of keeping the driveway clear of foreign debris for the sake of timely, reliable snow removal.

How To Tell If Your Driveway Was Cleared

Because snow removal companies work during the early morning hours homeowners often do not hear the equipment clearing their driveways. When it continues to snow many people mistakenly assume that we did not clear their driveway if it has snow in it.

A good way to determine if your driveway has been cleared on days when it snows continuously is to compare the amount of snow on your deck (or other area that represents the amount of snow from the current storm) to the amount of snow on your driveway. If there is considerably more snow on your deck (or other area) than there is in your driveway, you can assume that your driveway was cleared and that new snow has accumulated since it was cleared.

Another way to determine if your driveway was cleared is to look at the snow immediately in front of the garage door. Snow removal equipment can clear to within about 12 to 18 inches from your garage door. If the snow level is higher immediately in front of your garage door than it is in the balance of the driveway it has been cleared.

Leave An Interior Light On To Help Us Identify That You’re Home

We clear every home everyday we run our snow removal operations. But you can help us make sure that we clear your driveway as early as possible if you help us identify that you’re at your Tahoe Donner home.

On heavy snow days the speed at which we can clear each driveway slows down. On these days our Operations Manager will often instruct our snow removal operators to skip over homes that don’t show any sign of life in order to clear occupied homes as early as possible. This allows us to provide access to people who are at their Tahoe Donner home as early as possible.

The best way to help us determine if your home is occupied is for you to leave an interior light on that is visible from the front of your house. In situations when we skip ahead to occupied homes our snow removal operators are taught to look for signs of occupancy, which include visible lights, cars parked in driveways, tire tracks into the garage, snow shoveled from in front of the garage door and any changes from their previous clearing experiences.