City crews mobilize to confront late December snowfall

January 4, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Kelly Knox, teaches her daughter, Madelyn, 23 months, how to make a snowball Dec. 29 after snow fell in their Issaquah Highlands neighborhood park at Northeast Magnolia Street and 35th Avenue Northeast. By Greg Farrar

Snow dusted rooftops and dappled lawns in the Issaquah area as 2010 slid to a close, but snow showers did not impact commutes or cause the gridlock motorists faced during a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm.

The last snow showers of the year started early Dec. 29. Throughout the morning, Issaquah residents at higher elevations on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains, plus Grand Ridge, recorded steady snowfall, after a dusting as light as confectioners’ sugar coated downtown Issaquah.

Then, the mercury dipped into the 20s in the hours after the snowfall and roads slicked by melted snow turned icy. In the meantime, graupel — granular snow resembling mini-marshmallows — left a crunchy layer on the ground.

City Public Works Operations Department and King County Road Services crews monitored conditions around the clock and deployed after nightfall Dec. 29 as the temperature dipped into the 20s.

City crews fanned out across Issaquah in trucks at about 8:30 p.m. Dec. 29 to apply sand and de-icing fluid to priority routes — hillside streets and key road links — and then toiled through the night to prepare roads for the morning commute.

Motorists faced hazardous road conditions into Dec. 31 as ice melted and refroze. City road crews remained on standby through the holiday weekend. Temperatures had reached the 40s by early January.

Issaquah Police Chief Paul Ayers said officers responded to a handful of collisions and sliding incidents related to icy conditions throughout the city.

King County Metro Transit advised bus riders to prepare for possible delays, but the inclement conditions did not impact Issaquah routes.

The snowfall came a little more than a month after a late November snowstorm crippled the region, disrupting bus routes and prompting drivers to abandon vehicles on road shoulders. Police impounded dozens of vehicles abandoned in travel lanes as conditions deteriorated.

On the Web

In addition to a winter weather-centric website, the city also maintains a radio station, 1700-AM, and emergency phone line, 837-3028, to provide frequent winter storm updates.

Find information about road closures and King County snow-response plans at the county Road Services Division website.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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