Some turn cold weather into cold cash

Posted at 6:07 PM, Mar 04, 2014

A late-season snowstorm this week heaped additional misery on Hampton Roads, cursing us with still more cold and snow.

But for some, these snow banks have put money in the real bank.

"It's definitely an extra piece of change for us," said Keith Hurte of Better Lawns Landscaping.

As the snow fell, Craigslist filled with offers to shovel snow. For companies that make most of their money in the warm months, the snow brought in unexpected cash this winter.

Richard Norman of Better Lawns Landscaping says they've swept docks, shoveled driveways and -- when we caught up with them Tuesday -- scraped clear a church parking lot.

"We try to stay in the office and wait for the calls," he said. "When they come in, we go."

The snowfall has been a windfall for others, too. In Norfolk, the late-January snowstorm forced the city to spend $30,000 a day on Downtown snow removal. Several small hauling businesses showed up for a piece of the pile. And in Virginia Beach during that same storm, city records show it spent almost $1.5 million to dig out. Most of that was overtime money paid to city workers.

And Wintergreen Resort near Charlottesville has enjoyed nearly five feet of natural snow this year. That's well above the average of 34 inches, according to resort tracker Combined with manmade snow and cool spring temperatures, resort manager Hank Thiess said Wintergreen will be open through March, and maybe longer. He declined to say what the longer season would mean financially for the resort.

At Better Lawns Landscaping, it means keeping crews busy and money flowing during the down season.

Simply, Hurte said, "We love the snow."