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SDOT Winter Weather Home Page
Seattle's Winter Weather Readiness and Response Plan
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Seattles Winter Weather Readiness and Response Plan

When the Storms Hit - We Have a Plan

SDOT works closely with King County Metro Transit, the Seattle School District, local universities, hospitals, and major employers to ensure our snow-fighting work maintains mobility for people and goods, and access to the region. The snow route map shows where we will focus our snow-fighting efforts. Those streets will be treated with de-icer and plowed when the storm hits. Now is a good time to plan routes to get to work, the grocery store, child care and medical appointments.

Winter Storms - Here’s Our Plan

In Seattle, winter can bring heavy rain, high winds, ice and snow.  We’re monitoring conditions.

  • Our staff follows weather reports 24 hours a day, all year long, with a direct line to the National Weather Service and live Doppler radar feeds. 
  • We use a forecasting tool developed with the University of Washington called SNOWWATCH to learn how a storm will most likely affect different neighborhoods. This information helps determine where the crews will be needed first.
  • Our computerized sensors located on city bridges, and also ground surface sensors, provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures.
  • We use real-time, live-streaming cameras to see actual conditions on key streets. You can see the camera views on SDOT’s website, www.seattle.gov/travelers.

The City of Seattle takes a proactive approach, using best practices to respond to snow and ice:

  • SDOT crews use trucks fitted with plows and salt-spreaders to keep major streets clear.
  • When conditions allow, the crews pre-treat key streets and bridges with anti-icer before the snow starts falling to help prevent ice from forming. 
  • As the snow begins to fall, the crews continue to drive their routes, treating the roadway with salt where needed. When approximately one inch of snow has accumulated, they begin plowing.
  • During a snow event, a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system tracks the locations of the trucks.  A map on SDOT’s website shows where the trucks are at the current time and also which streets the trucks have already serviced. During a major storm you will be able to see the map on our website at web6.seattle.gov/sdot/winterweathermap.

When Storms are Headed Our Way – We’re Preparing

We will plow major streets. These are the streets that are most important for getting to major public institutions such as hospitals and schools; the streets that are most frequently used by police, fire trucks and buses; and streets leading to Seattle’s major employers. We do not plow non-arterial streets.

  • We start preparing for winter in the summer, training staff, calibrating equipment and working with local agency partners.
  • When high winds or heavy rain are forecast, our crews are ready to remove fallen trees from the road, and to repair signs and signals.
  • Our supplies of salt and liquid anti-icer are ready to help keep ice from forming on main city streets and bridges.

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