Only a slushy mix of rain and snow is predicted to hit parts of the Eastside tonight, but cities are gearing up with lines of tow trucks, sand and 24-hour work crews just in case...

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Only a slushy mix of rain and snow is predicted to hit parts of the Eastside tonight, but cities are gearing up with lines of tow trucks, sand and 24-hour work crews just in case.

The National Weather Service is predicting that the slush probably won’t stick around long. Snow may be more likely over the weekend, and an even-colder weather system is expected early next week, said forecaster Danny Mercer.

“You just never know,” said Jim Cooper, Redmond’s head of transportation operations. “We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”

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King County, Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland all have detailed plans for digging out their areas. Fleets of snowplows, sand trucks and road graders are ready to be deployed, and crews are on call for alternating 12-hour shifts each day.

Still, the crews won’t necessarily spring into full action at the mere sight of the first snowflake. Snow around here often doesn’t stick, and sometimes only communities at higher elevations, such as the Sammamish Plateau or far East King County, get blanketed.

“Our response will be proportionate to the amount of snow we get,” said John Hopfauf, manager of the Kirkland street department.

King County has been mobilized for snow since November, and has been handling icy conditions for weeks at higher elevations. Thirty-two snowplows, 11 road graders and four de-icing trucks are assigned to cover about 2,600 miles of roads in unincorporated King County and eight cities that contract with the county for services.

Bellevue also has equipment in place, and has already shut down one road. Crews yesterday shut down the left lane of the eastbound Lake Hills Connector, from Richards Road to 134th Avenue Southeast because it was too icy.

In addition to a team of plows and trucks, Redmond has about 30 employees on call to help. Kirkland has about 40.

In case of a big snowfall, officials will focus on clearing arterials, major bus routes and roads near freeways, schools and hospitals.

Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or abach@seattletimes.com