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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City Departments Tackling Winter Storm

12/17/2008  2:00:00 PM

City Departments Tackling Winter Storm

SEATTLE – City of Seattle officials detailed actions taken to ensure that roads are clear and people have a warm bed during the worst winter weather in more than a decade. At a briefing this morning at the Emergency Operations Center, representatives from the Fire Department and Seattle Public Utilities also outlined strategies to keep people and homes safe as temperatures continue to hover around freezing.

Transportation: Round-the-Clock Operations

Seattle Department of Transportation Director Grace Crunican said SDOT is drawing on its fleet of 27 sanders, plows and de-icing trucks to address the new winter precipitation. On Tuesday, the department treated all major roadway structures such as the West Seattle Bridge, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Aurora Bridge with liquid de-icer to assist with snow and ice removal. 

The department will focus on major arterials to link neighborhoods and continue transit service for the city. Crews will work in shifts around-the-clock to clear and sand all main roadways. When satisfied with arterial conditions, crews may start to clear residential streets on a request basis. If there are side streets that residents want to highlight for plowing and sanding, please call SDOT’s Charles Street dispatch (24 hours a day) at 206-386-1218. The department will prioritize those requests and attempt to work as many as possible.

Motorists are advised to use caution when driving in snow and ice, especially on Seattle’s many hills and bridges. Additional information on SDOT’s winter storm response and priority routes for plowing can be found at: 

Human Services: Sheltering the Homeless

As freezing temperatures continue, the city of Seattle is keeping two severe weather overnight shelters and one “overflow” shelter for homeless people open through the duration of the cold snap.

Shelters, jails, hospitals, the Crisis Clinic and Operation Nightwatch notify homeless of the additional services. In addition, Seattle police officers in a van equipped with blankets approach homeless people and ask them if they need shelter for the night and help them with transportation.

Since the first day of operation through Tuesday, a total of 619 people have stayed at these shelters. There is space to accommodate anyone in need.

Seattle Public Utilities: Protect Your Pipes
It’s not too late to take precautions to prevent pipes from freezing and causing costly repairs.  Seattle Public Utilities is recommending that citizens do the following:

  • Shut off outside faucets, drain the water and protect your faucets by insulating them with rags, old t-shirts, towels or foam covers. 
  • Protect indoor sink pipes that are against exterior walls, by opening under-sink cabinet doors, allowing heat to circulate.
  • Allow the faucet farthest from your front door to slowly drip cold water.
  • Set thermostats no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, day or night, even when the home is unoccupied.

Despite taking precautions, some Seattle residents will unfortunately experience broken pipes and flooding.  To prevent flooding and damage:

  • Immediately close the main shut-off valve.  In most homes, the main shut-off valve can be found alongside the house. To shut off the water on your property, twist the lever to the right. 
  • If you cannot locate the shut-off valve on your property, the water can also be shut off at the curbside meter. You will need a wrench or “T-handle,” which can found at most hardware stores.  Lift up the meter cover and locate the shut-off valve.  Using the tool, turn the valve a quarter turn to the right to shut down the water.
  • If you are unable to turn off the main shut-off valve, Seattle residents can call (206) 386-1800 and a crew will turn off the water at the meter for a standard service charge.

For more tips on protecting your home in cold weather, please visit our Web site at:

Seattle Fire Department: Keep Warm, Keep Safe

  • Do not burn charcoal or use gasoline generators indoors, including the garage. Do not use gas or kerosene heaters in closed rooms. These produce carbon monoxide, a deadly gas which can not be seen or smelled.
  • Never use gas ovens to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • If you use a fireplace or wood stove, make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.
  • All portable heaters should be placed at least three feet from bedding, furniture, and other flammable materials. They should be plugged directly in the wall, not into an extension cord.
  • Portable heaters should be turned off when you leave the room or before going to bed. Baseboard heaters should not touch any furniture, bedding or curtains, or other items stored on the floor.
  • Make certain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

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Office of the Mayor

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