The likelihood of a snowy Friday morning commute has local agencies gearing up their snow-preparation plans — keeping one eye on the skies and another on the forecast.
In King County, two road crews were to work through the night to clear roads and report on conditions. An additional eight crews were to begin work at 3 a.m., or earlier if warranted by weather and road conditions, said Rochelle Ogershock, a spokeswoman for King County.
Travis Phelps of the Washington State Department of Transportation said 40 to 50 WSDOT trucks were out in the Central Puget Sound area Thursday putting de-icer on potentially dangerous bridges and overpasses, where ice forms earliest, and on dangerous curves.
“It’s a tricky forecast,” Phelps said, adding that crews working 12-hour shifts need to be prepared for 1 to 5 inches of snow. The snow is expected to turn to rain later Friday and lessen the danger, but it’s not clear when.
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Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Webb said drivers who need to be out in the snow should leave early and expect delays.
They should make sure their tires are right for conditions and be ready for an emergency, with a full tank of gas, warm clothes and emergency supplies.
Leaving extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you is also advised; it could avoid a collision if the car in front spins out.
In Seattle, crews were out Thursday putting down some 6,000 gallons of a salty brine, used to prevent ice and snow from accumulating, said Rick Sheridan of the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Once the snow hits, the city planned to deploy about two dozen rigs that can plow snow and spread salt.
Sheridan said the priority is on routes used by public transportation. Seattle residents can track updated snowplow activity at www.seattle.gov/transportation/winterweather.htm.
Officials at Metro and Community Transit in Snohomish County, said the agencies would monitor conditions through the night and morning and would prepare as necessary, chaining buses as needed, rerouting some trips or perhaps canceling others.
If it snows, Metro may substitute buses for electric-trolley buses, Ogershock said. That could mean a reduced number of commuter-bus trips. She warned riders to be patient, expect delays and crowded buses and to dress in warm clothing and footwear.
Both transit agencies urged commuters to check their websites and sign up to receive rider alerts at metro.kingcounty.gov/alerts/ (Metro said smartphone apps may not be as reliable as the agency alerts) and www.commtrans.org/alerts/.
Should the weather be difficult, Metro said, riders should head for bus stops on main arterials and at major transfer points such as park-and-ride lots, transit centers or shopping centers. Riders should wait at bus stops at the very top or very bottom of hills, because buses are often unable to stop for passengers on inclines.
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2222