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Sometime in early fall, the City of Woodinville starts checking equipment and stockpiling everything we need for snow response. This includes 5 plows, 400 gallons of de-icer, 180 tons of sand, and 70 tons of salt.
The day before snow is expected to arrive, City crews apply sand and a layer of salt brine solution de-icer to major arterials and residential streets that are known to be steep or particularly difficult to navigate. The brine helps prevent snow from sticking to the pavement and makes plowing and additional salting more effective.
The City has a system in place for prioritizing which roads to plow. With over 50 miles of roads, 30 of which are residential including over 100 cul-de-sacs, it takes time for our plows to make it out to all areas.
Plowing time depends on many factors, including the intensity and duration of the snowstorm, the amount of snow accumulated, as well as temperature and wind speed. During particularly intense storms where plows are in use around the clock, equipment repairs are often needed. In this situation, fewer available plows can also contribute to overall plowing time.
City crews operate plows according to our Snow & Ice Route Map. Our goal is to maximize safety and access for the greatest number of people by keeping lifeline routes and major thoroughfares in good winter driving condition.
Major arterials within the City are assigned a Priority 1 level. These roads are often plowed multiple times before starting on lower priority roads. Priority 1 routes also include roads that provide access to fire stations, medical facilities, and schools.
Priority 2, 3, and 4 streets are assigned by taking into consideration connectivity to major arterials, presence of steep hills, curves, or ditches, and the number of households that rely on a street to leave their neighborhood.
Private roads and driveways are not plowed.
During and immediately after major snow events, we can sometimes get hundreds of these calls a day. Our crews are out plowing 24/7, and it can take time to get to some of the smaller residential streets. If the snow is continuing to fall, we’re likely working to ensure that major thoroughfares stay clear.
Please understand that we have finite resources to respond to snow events—including plow equipment, maintenance personnel, and storage capacity for deicer and salt to treat surfaces. This is especially true when responding to unusually intense snow events for our region. With over 100 lane miles of roadway to maintain, it is difficult to plow all of the streets with the City’s limited staff and equipment. Most of the First Priority routes contain four lanes plus turning lanes; these routes can keep equipment busy 24 hours a day, even after the snow stops falling. The City’s goal is to maintain a safe travel route for you and your family. The City makes every effort to get to the lower priority streets when weather and conditions allow.
If you live along a low-priority street and are concerned about the time it takes for plows to arrive, we recommend making a plan with your neighbors to coordinate shoveling and snow removal. If you are physically able to shovel snow, consider helping those who live nearby who may not be.
We recommend all Woodinville residents have an emergency kit on hand which includes first aid supplies, food, water, and other supplies to be self-sufficient for 7-10 days. For help putting together an emergency kit, refer to the Emergency Kit Checklist from Makeitthrough.org (PDF).
Sometimes snow pushed to the side of the road by a plow can pile up and block driveways. There is no way for plow operators to avoid this. It is the resident’s responsibility to shovel the area around their driveway.
We don’t stack snow in the center lane because … Plowing and piling snow into the center of a street creates a safety hazard. The freeze-thaw cycle creates a bigger challenge when the melting snow freezes on the road surface during the evening. Traffic flow is restricted by eliminating a portion of a driving lane, and it creates sight obstructions for low ground clearance vehicles.
With the exception of a few high-traffic areas near schools and commercial areas, the City does not remove snow from sidewalks.
It is the responsibility of the owner of a property abutting a public sidewalk to maintain the sidewalk at all times in a safe condition, free of snow and ice. (Woodinville Municipal Code 12.06.030)
The safest thing you can do during a snow storm is to stay off the roads. Not only is driving during snowfall treacherous for you and your vehicle, it can be life-threatening for pedestrians. Slow-moving and abandoned cars also interfere with first responders and plow operators—better not to take a chance if you can avoid it. Mostly importantly, do not abandon your car in the middle of the road.
If you must drive, slow down and watch for ice, hills, and ditches.
Be sure to clear your car of all snow and ice before leaving for your destination.
When driving at night, keep your headlight beams low. High beams can amplify the appearance of snow and lead to decreased visibility.