Charlie Greffen is a maintenance engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration's Laurel shop. He oversees snow removal operations for state-maintained roads in Prince George's County.
How long have you been working in the snow removal business?
I got into it a long time ago. I was 18 when I came to the state, I guess I just applied, and I've been here ever since. I haven't actually driven a snowplow for about five years. Now I manage the maintenance facility in Laurel. But I probably drove a snowplow for about 15 years.
What's the worst storm you've ever worked in?
Probably the worst one I've ever experienced was in 1991. We had a big storm with a lot of wind and all that snow and a lot of drifting. I think we were all working seven straight days. We had a lot of heavy, dry snow and areas where no sooner than we plowed, the wind would blow the road back closed.
Is there ever a point when a snowplow can't plow snow?
In 2010, we got to a point where the trucks weren't really good to us anymore. The snow got so high to where we couldn't even push it. It rolls over the top of the plow and starts going out the left side, in the opposite direction you want. We do have bigger plows that can push heavier volumes of snow. But that was challenging because we had to coordinate and bring in all this additional equipment to move the snow, blowers and loaders.
What's the most difficult thing about plowing snow?
If they declare a state of emergency and there's no traffic, that's an ideal condition. But most of the time you have traffic, and that's the most difficult thing. People get impatient and try to go around you, drive in your snowdrift and get in the way.
- Ben Giles