Snowplow operators in southern New Hampshire have seen more green on the ground than in their wallets this winter, but it’s only the middle of February.
“I think New England would be foolish to write it off this early,” said Wes Hampton, owner of Portsmouth Snow Removal, which clears snow for commercial and residential properties and the city of Portsmouth.
Hampton’s company has been busier with commercial jobs and the city, but has had only three storms that required residential plowing since November on the Seacoast, where the ground is mostly bare.
That will likely change by Tuesday afternoon when the next storm system is expected to roll in.
According to the National Weather Service, the snow will be heavy at times overnight into Wednesday morning when a switch to sleet and rain is expected south of the White Mountains.
Forecasters are calling for 6 to 10 inches of snow across the state with a light glaze from the changeover.
The snowfall forecast is welcome news for people who count on messy weather to keep the cash flowing during the winter months.
National Weather Service records show Concord has reported 32.5 inches of snow so far this season, which is 7.4 inches below normal.
While snowfall amounts aren’t too far off from normal in Concord, which is the weather service’s official recording location, the temperature swings have turned the storms into a wet mess and eaten away at the snow in southern areas.
“There’s plenty of winter left,” said Andrew Pelkey, an owner of North Point Outdoors in Londonderry.
The company offers landscaping and irrigation services in the summer and snow and ice removal in the winter.
Fortunately for Pelkey’s company, 65 percent of its winter work is contracted commercial plowing services, which guarantees it’ll get paid regardless of how much snow falls.
A quiet winter is tougher on plow operators who rely on residential plowing where they’re typically paid by the storm.
“I think it’s affecting them a little more this year,” Pelkey said.
He’s optimistic that the snow will ramp up by March.
“Last March was the big hitter. We had 46 inches. It’s definitely on the slower end now, but up until now it’s been somewhat in line with last year. It’s just a matter of how March pans out,” Pelkey said.
Ken Jones, owner of K.W. Jones LLC in Fremont, plows residential driveways in the area. He hasn’t been busy, but he’s lucky enough to have his home improvement company to make a living.
“I don’t really depend on the snow,” he said.
Like other companies, North Atlantic Snow Services of Epping and Rye has contracts with many of its customers.
“That carries us through somewhat, but the storms have been very hard to predict, track and plan for. There’s been a lot of ice and rain on the backside of the events. It’s been challenging,” said Robert Proulx, operations manager for the snow and ice management contracting company.
The company is owned by North Atlantic Services, which also operates other businesses that provide services that include heating oil, firewood and excavation.
“We’re hoping for a strong finish. We count on a lot of snow removal,” Proulx said.