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Seattle-area snow plow routes activated as first snow falls

caption: A snow plow activated as Seattle expects snow, Nov. 29, 2022.
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A snow plow activated as Seattle expects snow, Nov. 29, 2022.
Juan Chiquiza / KUOW

Dozens of snow plows are at the ready in the Puget Sound region in case snow accumulates on busy roads.

The city of Seattle has 50 deicer and plow trucks fueled up and ready to hit Seattle's streets, if the snow does pile up. Bellevue has 17 trucks that can be fitted with a plow, and Bellingham has seven.

There's a chance of rain and snow every day this week.

When snow starts to accumulate, city of Seattle trucks drop granular salt and liquid magnesium chloride to help melt it. Plowing happens when there's a break in the storm, and crews only plow heavily used roads.

@kuow949 It's snow season. Time to familiarize yourself with Seattle's snow route map. Story: KUOW Staff Photos: Juan Pablo Chiquiza, David Hyde, Seattle Department of Transportation Design: Teo Popescu #pacificnorthwest #snowplow #seattle #snowplowsoftiktok #washingtonstate #kuow @Washington State DOT @Seattle Channel @tpop creations ♬ Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin

Seattle has three tools to monitor roads during snow:

More 2022 plow routes in Puget Sound region:

In Seattle, Department of Transportation spokesperson Ethan Bergerson said they're standing by.

"We're ready and you should be too. Watch the weather reports," he said.

"If you normally drive to work, check what the weather’s going to be like, and make sure you don't drive your car and then end up getting stuck out there. And the final thing: if you don’t have a shovel yet, talk to your neighbors to make sure that there is a plan in place to clear the sidewalks in your neighborhood," Bergerson added.

He recommends people get familiar with the city’s snow plow routes, prepare to shovel your sidewalk, and stock enough food to get through the storm.

Clearing sidewalks remains the responsibility of property owners in Seattle and most neighboring cities, including Bellevue, Everett, and Bellingham.

Seattle's transportation crews are applying some lessons they learned from the last few snowstorms.

"We've worked with King County Metro to coordinate how we clear the snow around bus stops," Bergerson said.

A few years ago, he notes, "the way that we cleared bus stops people actually had to walk through the snow a little bit to get to the stop, so that's something we learned."

Bergerson said the city also has a new snow plow route map, updated this year. Roads such as Rainier Avenue South, Aurora, and Lake City Way are on the priority list, along with dozens more.

King County Metro will drop bus routes if snow accumulates, and use only its emergency network. Link and Sounder trains operate as normal during snow.

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