Commuters urged to prepare for plan for hazardous conditions

February 23, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 3 p.m. Feb. 23, 2011

Officials urged commuters to head home earlier than usual, and to check conditions for roads and mass transit before a significant snowstorm wallops the region Wednesday night.

National Weather Service meteorologists predicted bursts of snow showers to continue through Thursday morning. The snowfall is expected to more intense than the intermittent snow showers reported in Issaquah throughout Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Forecasters said the total daytime accumulation in Issaquah could range from 2 to 4 inches.

The mercury dips into 20s Wednesday night. Meteorologists predicted another 2 to 4 inches of snow could accumulate in Issaquah and the surrounding area. Snowfall is expected to continue into Thursday.

Issaquah road crews remain on standby to apply sand or de-icing fluid to Issaquah streets if needed throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

In the meantime, roads remain open in Issaquah, though drivers should prepare for winter driving conditions, even on treated roads and especially at night.

Crews focus on priority routes and then start to clear side streets as conditions allow.

Motorists can check up-to-the-minute road conditions on real-time traffic cameras installed throughout Issaquah.

The state Department of Transportation directed commuters to check traffic cameras and traffic alerts before trips.

King County Road Services Division crews also readied for 24-hour operations to combat snow and ice.

Motorists traveling on roads at higher elevations and plateau areas — such as the Sammamish Plateau — encountered snow Tuesday night and Wednesday. Motorists traveling anywhere in the county could encounter snow as conditions worsen throughout Wednesday.

County planners urged motorists to monitor the latest weather forecasts and to be prepared for winter driving conditions. Motorists should also pay special attention to bridges and overpasses, because both can be more prone to freeze during late night and early morning hours. So, drivers should be on the lookout for black ice, as well as snow.

King County Metro Transit riders should prepare for crowded buses and delays during the evening commute.

The agency is chaining buses and plans to start snow routing late Wednesday afternoon. Riders should prepare for changing conditions throughout the day and into Thursday.

Metro Transit planners urged riders to check the winter weather website before traveling. Updates start at 4 a.m. each day.

The agency also encouraged residents to sign up for Transit Alerts to receive up-to-date information about snow operations.

Metro Transit managers often face questions about why 60-foot articulated buses remain on the road amid snow.

The agency cannot park all the articulated buses — because the buses comprise about 50 percent of Metro’s entire fleet and provide more than 50 percent of the seated capacity on Metro Transit buses. The demand for bus service is also higher in the afternoon than during the morning commute.

Sound Transit reminded riders to boost “snow-how” for riding mass transit in the days ahead.

Sound Transit riders should sign up to receive rider alert e-mails or text messages. Riders can receive routes for specific bus routes.

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