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caption: Buses get prepared with tire chains on the University of Washington campus as snow falls on Seattle, Jan. 13, 2020. 
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Buses get prepared with tire chains on the University of Washington campus as snow falls on Seattle, Jan. 13, 2020.
Credit: Juan Pablo Chiquiza | KUOW

Shovel your sidewalk or get fined, Seattle officials say

Many in the Puget Sound region woke to find snow on the ground Monday morning.

According to the National Weather Service, more freezing temperatures are on the way, and that means a chance of more snow.

On Monday, Seattle officials further cautioned residents about how to handle the icy weather.

  • Don’t drive unless you have to. If you are driving, check your route and be prepared.
  • Stock up on supplies and check on your neighbors.
  • Shovel your sidewalks. Property owners and businesses are responsible for clearing adjacent sidewalks. If you don’t, you could get a warning and then a fine.
  • If you’re living outside, there are emergency shelters open and the city wants you to come out of the weather.
  • No sledding on closed streets. It might sound fun, but Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said they prefer that people stay out of the icy roads.
  • Stay informed. The weather can be unpredictable so tune in to weather updates and check the forecast online to stay on top of things.

Roads

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has treated all main arterial routes, transit routes, and emergency routes.

They have about 35 plows ready to go and smaller equipment to deal with cars or buses that might get stuck.

Heading into Tuesday, SDOT officials are less worried about snow and more worried about ice.

“At night it’s going to get colder, and when it gets colder, a lot of this moisture will turn to black ice,” said Rodney Maxie, deputy maintenance director for SDOT.

Maxie warns drivers not to assume the roads are safe just because they look clear.

“Remember, if the road is shiny, it might still be slippery,” he said.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan asked residents who don’t have to drive to stay off the roads.

For people who are driving, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) asks people to check the forecast, check the route, and be prepared for the conditions. Have enough gas in the car in case there are delays, make sure you have supplies, and ensure that you have the right safety equipment.

Transit

King County Metro buses in north and east King County were on snow routes this morning.

Riders can get updates on their route at MetroWinter.com and by signing up for transit alerts. Sound Transit bus routes 512, 550,554, and 556 are also on snow routes.

Sounder trains and light rail will continue to run despite the weather. However, light rail service is already in the midst of a 10-week period of reduced operation.

Trains will be running roughly every 14 minutes, rather than every six minutes. If you’ll be waiting on an outdoor platform, dress warmly.

Homelessness

Severe weather shelters were activated Sunday night to serve people living outside amid the cold weather.

Emergency shelter beds are available at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall. A total of 86 people stayed there Sunday night, according to city officials. The shelter is open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. each night and will remain open throughout this week.

The shelter is open to all adults and will accommodate pets and belongings.

People who need somewhere warm to be during the day can go to Seattle Center’s Armory.

“We are really concerned with anyone who is living outdoors, living in a tent, as the temperatures today are expected to get dangerously low,” said Jason Johnson, head of the city’s Human Services Department (HSD).

Additional emergency beds are available at several locations, including the ones listed below:

• King County Administration Building, 500 4th Avenue, Seattle. This shelter serves men only. It's open 7 p.m. – 6 a.m.

• Kent Lutheran Church, 336 2nd Avenue South, Kent. This shelter serves adults. It's open 8 p.m. - 7 a.m.

• Mary’s Place, variety of locations. These shelters serve families. Call 206-245-1026 for information.

• Shoreline severe weather shelter, 1206 North 185th Street, Shoreline. This shelter serves adults. It's open 8:30 p.m. - 7 a.m.

For a full list of available shelters call 211, or go to CrisisConnections.org

The city has asked shelter providers to expand their capacity so more people can come inside.

Outreach teams are making the rounds with things like socks, blankets, hand warmers, and food. If people do not go inside they are trying to ensure they have supplies and are as safe as possible, according to HSD’s Jason Johnson.

Sidewalks

City officials continue to stress the importance of keeping sidewalks clear. It’s the responsibility of property owners and residents to clear adjacent sidewalks.

“It’s not just the lawful thing to do, it’s actually the right thing to do,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said.

“We know that it can become very treacherous in Seattle for people to walk or roll on sidewalks and it will serve everyone and keep everyone more safe if people do what they’re supposed to do.”

People who don’t clear sidewalks may face a warning from the city. If the issue is not addressed after that they can face a fine starting at $50 for a residential property and $250 for a commercial property.

Officials suggest putting salt on the sidewalk may make it easier to clear if and when more snow falls.