Are You Prepared For Another Snowy Winter? The City Of Seattle Says It Is…
by Jack Mayne
Residents of the Burien area who work in Seattle must remember the snowstorm of 2008, when even some arterials were clogged with snow on which Seattle city crews dumped dirt and basically tied up the city for several days.
Some believe the storm and the traffic mess it created ended the career of then-Mayor Greg Nickels.
The current Seattle mayor has had a rocky first year in office, but he has definitely not forgotten the lesson Nickels learned too late: Keep the streets clear so businesses can operate and citizens can get to work.
It looks like another La Niña year, when colder than usual temperatures are expected, so Mayor Mike McGinn has announced Seattle is prepared for another season and winter storm plans are readied, salt stockpiled and equipment prepped.
“If tested by colder temperatures and more precipitation, we are ready to respond and keep arterial streets clear,” said McGinn. “Across city departments and in coordination with other agencies, we have completed our winter response preparations and stand ready to act.”
McGinn said the city has a new Winter Weather Response webpage, which allows residents to track where plows have been and check current street conditions. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will activate the website during snowstorms. It will include a map of winter weather routes; provide plow data for the previous one-, three- and 12-hour periods; and display nearby traffic cameras. Residents will be able to access the website via SDOT’s homepage: www.seattle.gov/transportation/.
McGinn said the aim is to keep major roads open, buses moving and critical emergency services accessible during snow and ice storms. In line with industry best practices, SDOT will stay ahead of storms by pre-treating streets with salt brine before snow falls to reduce snow’s ability to stick to streets and using salt during storms to melt snow more quickly. The plan, which has been used with success over the past two winter seasons, was designed in consultation with emergency services, transit providers and key partners such as area hospitals.
The city has 26 plows and four anti-icing/de-icing trucks ready to respond. The department has stockpiled 2,200 tons of salt and 46,500 gallons of salt brine and has already conducted a full exercise with its plow fleet.
Other storm season enhancements include implementing Snow Watch, a new weather tool that tracks and forecasts snowfall at the neighborhood level, converting to a more effective salt brine solution (magnesium chloride) for anti-icing and de-icing work, and completing internal agreements to provide SDOT’s snow fleet with additional drivers from other departments if needed.
With an emphasis on emergency response during winter storms, the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Fire Department have snow chains ready and alternate response routes planned so personnel can effectively respond to emergency and general calls during adverse weather.
Businesses and residents are reminded of their responsibility to shovel sidewalks adjacent to their properties. Clear walkways are important for safe pedestrian travel across neighborhoods during and after storms. Residents should prepare before the winter season by purchasing a snow shovel and salt to keep their sidewalks clear.
If you don’t recall what the Seattle area turns into (and drivers go through) during a snowstorm, here are some video reminders: