WEATHER: ‘Special Weather Statement’ Mentions The S-Word For Friday

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The National Weather Service on Wednesday (Nov. 16) released a “Special Weather Statement” that mentions the “S” word – SNOW – as possibly happening this Friday.

They say that a cold front will be moving down over us late Thursday night through Friday, bringing the chance of the white stuff, even across the lowlands.

But don’t expect anything too snowmageddon-like, as things will warm up by Saturday.

Here’s the statement in its entirety, released at 4:04 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011:

…Snow showers possible later this week… A cold upper level low pressure system is forecast to move southeast out of the gulf of Alaska and over the Pacific Northwest late Thursday night through Friday. This system is expected to generate showers across the area and the associated air mass will be cold enough that some of the precipitation could be in the form of snow across parts of the lowlands. Therefore…the current forecast calls for a mix of rain and snow showers over the lowlands of western Washington on Friday. Only spotty snow accumulations are expected with the majority of lowland locations remaining free of any accumulations. Where snow accumulations do occur…sunshine between the showers and air temperatures well above freezing on Friday afternoon will melt much of what accumulates.

King County wants you to know that they’re ready…sort of…just in case. They sent out the following press release on Tuesday (Nov. 15):

Falling temperatures have King County road crews on weather watch; public may see changes in snow response
Working with reduced resources, road crews ready to help keep people moving this winter

A repeat of La Niña and snow in the forecast has the King County Road Services Division cautioning drivers to be prepared for winter driving.

Because winter can come early in the higher hills, County road crews have topped off stockpiles of salt and sand and are ready to respond when roads get icy and the first flakes fall. That could be any day now, according to the latest forecast.

This season, the Road Services Division will have 17,700 cubic yards of sand, 270 cubic yards of salt and 21,000 gallons of anti-icing material stockpiled at ten field offices throughout the county. It also has a variety of equipment ready to go to combat snow and ice. During significant snowstorms, crews will be placed on 12-hour shifts to provide around-the-clock response to roads in unincorporated areas.

And beginning this month, six maintenance workers will once again be assigned overnight shifts to respond to snow, ice and other road problems.

While some unincorporated neighborhoods have been annexed by cities, the actual number of snow routes maintained by King County has changed very little in recent years. The County is still responsible for about 1300 miles of snow routes connecting cities, suburban and rural areas. Yet the Road Services Division will have fewer resources to respond due to funding and staff reductions.

These reductions mean some roads will be plowed and sanded less often depending on weather conditions. Priorities for snow and ice removal include arterials and heavily traveled roadways and routes used by Metro Transit buses. In general, snow response on roadways will occur in the following order of priority:

  • Major roads such as key arterials and main thoroughfares connecting densely populated areas.
  • Smaller roadways that carry traffic from local streets to arterial roadways connecting towns and cities.
  • Secondary commuter routes that are considered important connectors to the County’s larger network of roads.

During minor localized snow events, the division will shift crews from non-affected areas of the county to help keep roads clear. But during a significant regional snowstorm, the shifting of County forces may not be possible.

Given this potential for reduced road clearing, residents should familiarize themselves with King County’s snow plan and develop backup plans if heavy snow prevents travel. Those plans might include working a flexible schedule, telecommuting or postponing your trip, if possible.

“When a snowstorm strikes, the best way to avoid the dangers of driving is to stay home,” Road Services Division Manager Paulette Norman said. “If you must drive, stick to major arterials and make sure your vehicle has good winter tires and a full tank of gas before heading out.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine has pledged to work on finding a permanent and sustainable solution for local roads funding, and will work with the Governor’s Connecting Washington Task Force, which is crafting a statewide transportation package for consideration by the legislature.

Here’s the forecast for the area from the Weather Peeps:

Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. South southwest wind around 21 mph.

Thursday Night: Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 37. South wind between 11 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Friday: Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. South southwest wind between 3 and 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Friday Night: A chance of rain showers before 10pm, then a chance of rain and snow showers. Snow level 1100 feet lowering to 500 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday: A chance of rain and snow showers before 10am, then a chance of rain showers. Snow level 500 feet. Partly sunny, with a high near 42. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 34.

Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 44.

In any event, budget crunches are a reality in the City and the County. And you’ve no doubt heard of “austerity measures” in Greece and Italy. So we should expect belt-tightening to extend to snow removal services, too, as things are rough all over. Be patient with the City, County, and State through this winter season, and adjust your travel plans accordingly!

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One Response to “WEATHER: ‘Special Weather Statement’ Mentions The S-Word For Friday”
  1. burienette says:

    If I was a busy hard working woman that only had time for headlines I might assume splats of diarrhea would be falling from the sky on Friday. Whew! Good thing I’m not.

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