Robbie Moody was raised in a snowplow.

For three generations, members of his family have helped keep the Midcoast economy cooking during the winter by clearing roads and driveways in the Brunswick area.

But now, in the midst of an unusually mild winter, snow removal businesses like R. Moody & Sons Snowplowing are left waiting for work and the income that comes with it.

“I’m trying to keep it going because it’s been in business for so long, you know,” Moody said. “But it’s just so hard with no snowfall.”

Even larger plowing operations can’t bank on big profits in the winter due to the high overhead costs of purchasing and maintaining a fleet of vehicles, said Mark Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Landscaping in Arrowsic. By contracting with businesses like banks and medical centers, which require snow removal and salting even after light dustings, Jorgensen’s team can count on steady paychecks even during warm winters.

According to Jorgensen, his company has cleaned up from just five “snow events” so far this winter, compared to 13 through this date a year ago.


For smaller operations, that focus on residential clients, who tend to bill per storm rather than annually, the lack of snowfall can mean a huge drop in income.

Residential plowing makes up about 75% of the business of Brunswick’s MG Services LLC, according to owner Max Gottlieb. He estimated that each storm can bring in over $7,500 total from the 110-115 households his team serves.

Yet because most residents won’t pay for plowing unless they need it, a light snowfall doesn’t bring work; MG Services has only had one payable storm so far this season, down from three or four through this point last winter.

Combined with inflated prices for trucks, parts, gas and more, Gottlieb predicted the mild winter “is probably going to kill some snow removal companies.”

Global warming could cause more problems for the plowing industry in coming years, according to a 2020 report from the University of Maine.

While the average annual snowfall in Maine has declined only slightly in the last half century, the state has recently experienced more years of extremely little snow. One model in the report predicts the number of snow days in Southern Maine could decline by 38% by 2050.

Snow removers like Devin Cressey, who operates Cressey Lawn Care in Freeport, Yarmouth and Pownal, recognize the threat of a changing climate. In addition to taking up additional work like commercial fishing (which Cressey pointed out could also be affected by warming temperatures), he hopes to moderate risk by supplementing residential plowing with more commercial contracts.

But as milder winters become more common, plow operators may find fewer commercial clients willing to offer stable contracts, Jorgensen warned.

“It’s something I’ve thought about,” he said. “At some point … people are going to ask that question of, ‘Why am I paying you all this money and we haven’t had any snow?’”

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