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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: The City is preparing for another La Nina winter

11/9/2011  10:45:00 AM

The City is preparing for another La Nina winter
SDOT will keep streets clear using salt and salt brine; deploys new Winter Weather Response webpage

With winter storm plans readied, salt stockpiled and equipment prepped, Mayor Mike McGinn today announced the City of Seattle is preparing for another season of La Nina winter weather.

"If tested by colder temperatures and more precipitation, we are ready to respond and keep arterial streets clear," said McGinn. "Across City departments and in coordination with other agencies, we have completed our winter response preparations and stand ready to act."

McGinn also unveiled the City's new Winter Weather Response webpage, which allows residents to track where plows have been and check current street conditions. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will activate the website during snow storms. It will include a map of winter weather routes; provide plow data for the previous one-, three- and 12-hour periods; and display nearby traffic cameras. Residents will be able to access the website via SDOT's homepage:

Seattle's response aims to keep major roads open, buses moving and critical emergency services accessible during snow and ice storms. In line with industry best practices, SDOT will stay ahead of storms by pre-treating streets with salt brine before snow falls to reduce snow’s ability to stick to streets and using salt during storms to melt snow more quickly. The plan, which has been used with success over the past two winter seasons, was designed in consultation with emergency services, transit providers and key partners such as area hospitals.

SDOT has 26 plows and four anti-icing/de-icing trucks ready to respond. The department has stockpiled 2,200 tons of salt and 46,500 gallons of salt brine and has already conducted a full exercise with its plow fleet. To learn more about the winter storm plan and view the snow map, visit

Other storm season enhancements include implementing SnowWatch, a new weather tool that tracks and forecasts snowfall at the neighborhood level, converting to a more effective salt brine solution (magnesium chloride) for anti-icing and de-icing work, and completing internal agreements to provide SDOT's snow fleet with additional drivers from other departments if needed.

With an emphasis on emergency response during winter storms, the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Fire Department have snow chains ready and alternate response routes planned so personnel can effectively respond to emergency and general calls during adverse weather.

As Seattle's winter storms most often bring rain, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has been preparing by inspecting nearly 16,000 catch basins, pumping out over 4,000 catch basins and cleaning more than 164 miles of pipes. SPU will again use RainWatch to track storms and forecast precipitation at the neighborhood level, and is ready with its Urban Flood Response Plan in case of heavy rainfall. The public can assist by participating in SPU’s Adopt-A-Drain program, which helps keep the City’s 78,000 street drains clear of debris and reduces flooding during heavy rain and snow. More information about this program is available at:

Businesses and residents are reminded of their responsibility to shovel sidewalks adjacent to their properties. Clear walkways are important for safe pedestrian travel across neighborhoods during and after storms. Seattleites should prepare before the winter season by purchasing a snow shovel and salt to keep their sidewalks clear.

To help residents better prepare for the upcoming season, helpful winter tips and advice are available at the Take Winter by Storm website:


Office of the Mayor

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