Issaquah’s bill for response to January storms tops $500,000

February 21, 2012

The city’s initial tally for response and cleanup from the January snowstorm and subsequent ice storm reached $530,000 — although the number could shrink if federal officials release dollars for disaster efforts.

Officials used the dollars to put snowplows on Issaquah streets in 24-hour stretches, clear fallen trees and haul off debris.

The city could receive federal dollars as a reimbursement if President Barack Obama declares the January storms as a federal disaster. Such a decision means local governments could apply for reimbursements for emergency response and cleanup activities.

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National Weather Service issues flood watch for King County

February 21, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 21, 2012

National Weather Service meteorologists issued a flood watch for King County late Monday, as rain continues to pelt the region.

The flood watch is in effect for King County and other Western Washington counties until Thursday afternoon.

Meteorologists said heavy rain is forecast in the Cascades through Wednesday morning. The snow level is expected to rise to 6,000 to 7,000 feet above the Central Cascades during the same period.

Though the highest flooding risk is for rivers flowing from the mountains, increased precipitation in the area could cause Issaquah Creek to rise.

City officials base Issaquah Creek flood warnings on real-time data from a gauge upstream from Issaquah in Hobart. The system usually provides hours of lead time before flooding impacts Issaquah.

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King County assistance is available to relieve farm flood risk

February 21, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 21, 2012

The likelihood of flooding is a fact of life for many farmers living and working on the rich land in King County river valleys.

Help is available for farmers interested in building and repairing farm pads — elevated land to hold livestock, farm equipment and other essentials during a flood. King County is hosting a March 1 meeting in Preston to offer advice and technical assistance to rural landowners.

King County approved a demonstration project to improve existing farm pads after record-breaking floods in November 2006. The flooding led many livestock to drown or die from hypothermia. The disaster also ruined farm equipment and livestock feed.

Landowners from flood-prone areas can learn more about farm pads at the meeting at 7 p.m. at the Preston Community Center, 8625 310th Ave. S.E. County staffers plan to discuss technical assistance related to design, construction and permitting for farm pads.

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Cleanup continues after snowstorm and ice cause havoc

January 24, 2012

State Route 900 remains barricaded at midafternoon Jan. 20 to motorists wanting to go southbound past Northwest Talus Drive, a day after a downed tree blocked access to the urban village. By Greg Farrar

In the days after a snowstorm pummeled the region, blackout chased whiteout, as residents uneasy about thorny commutes and missed meetings instead confronted sinking temperatures and toppling trees — all sans electricity.

The major snowstorm dropped 3 to 6 inches across the Issaquah area Jan. 18, but the struggle started the next day, as a rare ice storm led to widespread power outages and caused trees to send ice- and snow-laden branches earthward.

The harsh conditions tested road crews, prompted spinouts and fender benders around the region, and led officials to cancel school for almost a week.

“It was like a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 punch,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said Jan. 23, as cleanup efforts continued. “For awhile there, I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Snowplow crews toil day and night to clear Issaquah streets

January 24, 2012

Come winter, the nonstop struggle between man and Mother Nature unfolds in a teeth-rattling ride aboard city snowplows.

Kyle Patterson, a city snowplow driver, maneuvers through the Montreux neighborhood to remove snow from streets Tuesday afternoon. By Warren Kagarise

Snow, split into quarters from tire tracks, clung to the streets just before sunset Jan. 17 in Montreux, a tony neighborhood on Cougar Mountain named for a city in the Swiss Alps. In methodical maneuvers, city snowplow driver Kyle Patterson edged back and forth along cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac, pushing snow from the roadway to form dirt-flecked berms along the street.

In the process, snow cascades from the plow and light powder is compacted into something more akin to spackle.

Each large snowplow truck in the city fleet resembles a mustard-yellow box atop gargantuan tires, a Tonka toy for a giant. Empty, a large truck tips the scales at about 30,000 pounds. Loaded, full of sand and de-icing fluid, the total balloons to about 60,000 pounds.

(The city operates seven snowplow trucks, a larger model for main roads and a smaller model for difficult-to-maneuver side streets.)

The drivers, dressed in fluorescent jackets the same color as a highlighter pen, ride in the snowplow cabs beneath a flashing amber light. Most drivers use earplugs to block noise from the rumbling engine and brakes screeching like a pterodactyl.

The job requires a nimble hand on the steering wheel and the levers used to manipulate the plow — not to mention patience, precision and pluck — for the lumbering trucks remain susceptible to the same road hazards as other vehicles, despite the bulk and chains meant to ensure traction.

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Issaquah Creek, street flooding emerge as latest concerns as city thaws

January 20, 2012

NEW — 3:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 2012

Concerns about Issaquah Creek and street flooding bubbled to the surface Friday afternoon, as ice and snow melt after debilitating storms and forecasters issued a flood watch for Western Washington.

City crews, officials and residents also cast a wary eye at ice- and snow-laden trees, as meteorologists forecast strong winds to last through the weekend — creating another possibility for overtaxed trees to drop branches on roads and residences.

Officials urged residents to clear snow and debris, such as fallen leaves and downed tree branches, from storm drains near homes in order to reduce the street-flooding risk.

The latest alerts came as many Issaquah residents spent another day without power, as Puget Sound Energy crews raced to restore power to more than 200,000 customers across the region.

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Motorists encounter fallen trees on local, regional roads

January 19, 2012

State Route 900 remains barricaded at midafternoon Jan. 20 to motorists wanting to go southbound past Northwest Talus Drive, a day after a downed tree blocked access to the urban village. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 1:15 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012

State transportation officials said the ice after a major snowstorm continues to create difficult driving conditions throughout the region.

Department of Transportation planners said frigid temperatures should continue to cause harsh conditions throughout Thursday.

“We had our crews out all night de-icing the roads. We threw everything we had at this storm — sand, de-icer, salt and plows,” Regional Maintenance Manager Dave McCormick said. “It’s so widespread that it’s been very difficult to keep up.”

State Route 900 is closed at Southeast May Valley Road. State Route 18 remains closed from Auburn Way and Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast due to multiple downed trees for several miles. State Route 202 is closed between Fall City and Snoqualmie due to downed trees. The roads should remain closed for several hours.

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Crews continue snow removal on Issaquah streets as flood concern rises

January 19, 2012

NEW — 5 a.m. Jan. 19, 2012

City road crews labored throughout the night and morning to remove snow and treat Issaquah streets, as officials and residents prepare for another day of snow-snarled commutes.

Roads remain open and snowplows continue to focus on Priority 1 routes — important arteries and access to hillside communities. Crews intend to address side streets as conditions allow. (Officials divide streets into priority levels for snow removal.)

Officials canceled all programs at the Issaquah Community Center and Julius Boehm Pool for Thursday. Call 837-3300 or go to the city website for updates on possible drop-in hours.

Expect rain and snow before 10 a.m. Thursday. Temperatures should rise into the upper 30s throughout the day. More rain and snow is expected Thursday night.

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Roads remain open as snow covers Issaquah, more lingers in forecast

January 18, 2012

Snow blankets downtown Issaquah on Wednesday morning as a King County Metro Transit bus heads north along Front Street South. By Kathleen R. Merrill

NEW — 9:15 a.m. Jan. 18, 2012

Snowfall greeted Issaquah residents Wednesday morning, as a less-severe-than-predicted snowstorm still left deep snow in local neighborhoods, especially areas at higher elevations.

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Snowplow crews toil day and night to clear Issaquah streets

January 18, 2012

Kyle Patterson, a city snowplow driver, maneuvers through the Montreux neighborhood to remove snow from streets Tuesday afternoon. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 18, 2012

Come winter, the nonstop struggle between man and Mother Nature unfolds in a teeth-rattling ride aboard city snowplows.

Snow, split into quarters from tire tracks, clung to the streets late Tuesday afternoon in Montreux, a tony neighborhood on Cougar Mountain named for a city in the Swiss Alps. In methodical maneuvers, city snowplow driver Kyle Patterson edged back and forth along cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac, pushing snow from the roadway to form dirt-flecked berms along the street.

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