White Center Weather Watch: County says it’s ready for anything

Well, anything wintry, at least, for starters. Here’s the news release we received late this afternoon:

After more than a week of bitterly cold temperatures in King County, there are two questions on everyone’s mind: when will it warm up; and will it snow?

Crews from the King County Road Services Division and King County Metro Transit are watching the forecasts and getting ready for whatever weather may blow in over the weekend and early next week.

Road Division staff has been on weather patrol for weeks, looking for icy roads and other driving hazards. There weren’t too many problems during the past week when temperatures dipped, because there was very little moisture in the air to turn into ice. That could change if the humidity increases or precipitation moves in, and the mercury doesn’t rise.

Today, the crews have installed snow plows and sanders onto trucks and received bulk deliveries of salt. Staff will be out over the weekend in key locations of unincorporated King County laying down anti-icing materials on the roads, and plowing snow if necessary.

For Metro Transit, preparation so far this fall/winter season has focused on helping bus riders stay in touch with disruptions in transit service.

Last month, Metro debuted a new system of alerts and online info to help customers be “in the know” when it snows, or when transit service is disrupted by other significant events. The new Metro Alerts Center webpage (www.kingcounty.gov/metro/alerts) displays route-specific disruptions. And, you can sign up to receive email or text messages about widespread service disruptions or weather events impacting your individual bus routes.

Today, Metro launched a new Twitter page (www.twitter.com/kcmetrobus) to help distribute that information. When snow is on the way or on the ground, Metro will use Twitter to point followers to the changing info in the Alerts Center and phone lines. Metro tweeters will watch what Twitter users are saying and pass along any useful information to the Metro operations staff. And, they will tweet tips to help people make travel plans.

The Road Division staff has also enhanced the online Road Alert website (www.kingcounty.gov/roadalert) to reflect both King County and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) road closures. During times of adverse weather, the online map and email alerts are a valuable tool for motorists traveling in unincorporated areas of the county.

The forecast for this weekend has been changing a lot over the past 24 hours, but both Metro and the Roads Divisions have their operations staff ready deal with ice or snow.

Based on lessons learned last winter, Metro has revised and simplified snow routes and has closely coordinated with other public works and transportation agencies to make sure bus routes are identified as priorities for plowing and sanding.

The Road Division has worked with the state and several local cities to develop a snow route map that prioritizes snow and ice removal on major arterials, public and school bus routes, emergency corridors leading to hospitals, and access to highways.


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