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Snow Event FAQ

Snow Event FAQ
Posted on 01/09/2020

Each winter, Woodinville receives many questions from residents about how we prepare and respond to snow events. Here in our Snow FAQ, we’ve compiled the most common questions and provided answers from our maintenance experts.

Q1: How does the City prepare for snow and ice events? What happens when the snow starts falling?

  • 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 de-icer to major arterials and residential streets that are known to be steep or particularly difficult to navigate.
  • 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.

Q2: How does the City prioritize which streets to plow?

  • City crews operate plows according to our Snow & Ice Route Map, available here. 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.

Q3: Why hasn’t the City plowed my residential street yet? When can I expect the plow to come?

  • 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.
  • 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.

Q4: The plow just came by my street, but it left a huge pile of snow right in front of my driveway! What should I do?

  • 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.

Q5: I’m glad the City plows our streets, but what about sidewalks? I want to be able to walk around my neighborhood safely.

  • 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)

Q6: What tips do you have for safe driving during snow storms?

  • 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.

If the city is currently or has recently experienced a snow event, please do not call to report that your street has not been plowed. Rest assured that our crews are keeping track of all plow routes and will clear lower priority roads as soon as they are able.