Crews prepare for wintry conditions as mercury drops

January 10, 2013

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 p.m. Jan. 10, 2013

Issaquah, King County and state road crews prepared for snow Thursday, as forecasters urged caution on roads, and rain threatened to turn to snow and create icy morning commutes Friday.

The city placed public works crews on standby Thursday to prepare for possible road hazards related to the winter weather.

King County prepared for a beefed-up response to ice and snow. Overnight, ice buildup on already-damp roadways is a concern for road crews.

The county put extra crews on the road for response, and as many as 12 trucks could remain on duty throughout the night. In addition to anti-icing operations, crews sand roads and plow slush or snow as necessary.

Roads in higher hilltop areas — in addition to bridges, overpasses and less-traveled roadways — can be particularly slippery as temperatures dip below freezing.

State crews planned to work around the clock to treat highways before and after the temperature dipped below freezing.

Issaquah and King County divide streets into priority levels for snow removal.

City snowplows initially focus on Priority 1 routes — important arteries and access to hillside communities, such as Squak Mountain and the highlands. Crews then address side streets as conditions allow.

City crews toil around the clock in 12-hour shifts to remove snow from the roadway and, if necessary, drop sand and de-icing fluid onto the roadway.

The county also puts crews on 12-hour shifts to provide around-the-clock response in unincorporated areas.

The city, county and state stockpiled salt, sand and anti-icing agents at locations throughout Issaquah and the surrounding area. Crews readied plows and sanders, and crews started to receive road-clearing assignments before Thanksgiving.

State transportation officials urged motorists to plan ahead, drive slowly and add extra time for trips.

In icy conditions, stopping distance increases, so motorists should leave at least three times more space than usual between vehicles.

National Weather Service meteorologists said conditions exist for lowland snow showers in Issaquah before 10 p.m. Thursday as temperatures drop into the upper 20s. The chance of snow is expected to decrease Friday morning as temperatures increase into the upper 30s.

Total nighttime snow accumulation of less than 1 inch is possible.

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