Author Archive: jickcoem

Coordinated emergency response in east King County

Informacion en español

King County is working with partners to bring additional support and resources to East King County communities heavily impacted by snow. The county has requested National Guard personnel and vehicles, and has ordered additional snow plows.

For unincorporated residents who are stuck in their neighborhood and have urgent service needs, we’ve established a 24/7 hotline for these issues: 206-296-3830 (translation service is available).

A friendly reminder the hotline: Please call only to communicate non-emergency needs, such as a need for transportation to a vital health care appointment, running out of generator fuel, needing food, or needing alternate shelter. As always, in an emergency, call 9-1-1.

A list of severe weather shelters around King County is available from Crisis Connections. NOTE: The American Red Cross emergency shelter in Duvall has closed due to community needs being met.

Find more information and tips in the latest update from our Department of Local Services.

Additional information:

  • Stay away from structures that are vulnerable to collapse due to heavy snow load.
  • Don’t operate generators indoors or near a door or window; never cook or heat inside with a charcoal or gas grill. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can make you ill, or even kill you. Get information about CO poisoning at kingcounty.gov/CO-poisoning.
  • If you are able to do so safely, check on neighbors, family, and friends, especially if they are older, have access or functional needs, or if you think their power might be out.

Stay Safe: Snow Loads and Other Hazards

Current Hazards

With temperatures rising above freezing in the lowlands, our concerns have shifted from snow to other hazards. The National Weather Service in Seattle has compiled a list of the potential hazards we face this week:

Landslides: As snow slowly melts it will seep into the soils, increasing the threat of landslides. This threat is currently highest below 1,000 feet where precipitation has changed to rain. The landslide risk will spread north through the coming days.

Roof Collapse: Rain falling into wet, heavy snow will add strain to roofs. If a roof is in imminent danger of collapse, stay away and call 9-1-1.

Snow Loads: Wet, heavy snow can down power lines. Snow can also cause downed branches and trees, also leading to outages. Wet, heavy snow can cause branches or trees to fall on homes, vehicles and people.

Slush: Many secondary roads and side streets have deep slush or compact snow and ice. Overnight lows, especially Wednesday night and Thursday morning, may result in areas of black ice, impacting commutes/travel.

Neighborhood Flooding: Rain and melting snow in the lowlands may combine with clogged storm drains to create areas of standing water. This can cause motorists to hydroplane. Area streams will also rise.

Stay Safe

As our region digs out from the most significant snowstorm in years, take some simple steps to keep yourself and your family safe:

  • Removing snow from your roof with a shovel can trigger unexpected snow slides causing crushing/suffocating injuries or death. Keep people and animals away from potential slide zones.
  • It is strongly recommend you not access your roof to clear snow. Climbing on a roof increases the load already stressed by the heavy snow load. The use of ladders when removing snow from your roof can pose additional hazards.
  • Consider hiring experts who have experience and specialized equipment for safely clearing snow or ice.
  • Clear any accumulation of snow around side wall vents that connect to household appliances, such as a clothes dryer.

 

“Snow” getting around it: this storm is one for the record books

According to Seattle Weather Blog, humans had not yet walked on the Moon the last time our area saw so much snow in one month. So far, 20.2 inches of snow has fallen at Sea-Tac Airport, making it the snowiest February on record there. February 2019 will definitely go down as one of the top ten snowiest months ever in our region – where it ultimately ends up on the list depends on how the next 16 days shake out.

Watch, warning, and advisory map courtesy NWS. Click to enlarge

A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. tonight for the Cascades. One to three feet of snow is expected, which will make travel difficult to impossible through Snoqualmie and Stevens passes. Foothill areas above 500 feet will see a couple inches of new snow this morning through noon. Meanwhile, the lowlands should get a break from snow today as temperatures have warmed enough for precipitation to change over to rain and melting to begin. However, that has led to a new concern: flooding. The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Urban and Small Stream Flood Warning for western King County effective until 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Rainfall combined with snowmelt will cause flooding of highways, streets, and underpasses as well as drainage channels and low-lying spots. Drivers should be alert to standing water on roadways and be prepared for possible road closures.

King County agencies

Even though the snowfall has tapered off in the lowlands, there’s still plenty of the “white stuff” on the ground causing problems. Most King County agencies and service counters will be open normal hours today, with the following exceptions:

  • Superior Court is operating on a reduced schedule. For more information, visit the Superior Court website.
  • District Court is closed.
  • County Council opens at 10:30 a.m. The Budget and Fiscal Management Committee meeting has been canceled, while the Law and Justice Committee will meet at 1 p.m.
  • Department of Assessments opens at 10:30 a.m.
  • Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is closed.

Today’s special election will go on as scheduled, with ballot drop boxes closing at 8 p.m. Ballots must be in the drop boxes by that time, or postmarked no later than today. There will be no extension. Per the Secretary of State, electronic return of ballots is limited to overseas and service voters. King County Elections is happy to discuss options for those who are snowbound. Call 206-296-8683 (VOTE) or visit kingcounty.gov/elections for information.

Transit and transportation

King County Metro Transit remains on Emergency Snow Network today. Bus service will be limited to selected core routes and shuttles, with little or no service in some areas of the county. Metro plans to restore most service starting at 4 a.m. Feb. 13. See MetroWinter.com or follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for updates.

King County Water Taxi will return to its normal reduced winter schedule on both the West Seattle and Vashon runs.

Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail and Sounder commuter rail are running as close to schedule as the weather allows. Service alerts are available at SoundTransit.org.

Highways and roads in the region continue to be messy. Crews from King County Roads, WSDOT, and regional cities are still working around-the-clock to plow and treat streets. However, there are quite a few roads that are still snow-packed. Take it easy while driving, and don’t make any unnecessary trips. Also, if you see standing water on a roadway, don’t risk it – find an alternate route. Turn around, don’t drown!

With very heavy snow expected in the Cascades through this afternoon, Snoqualmie and Stevens passes may be restricted or closed. Check @wsdot_passes on Twitter for the latest information.

Health and safety

Heavy, wet snow has caused numerous power outages in our region. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Puget Sound Energy reports 68,000 customers without electricity in its western Washington service area, and Seattle City Light has a little over 11,000 without power. Know what to do when the lights go dark, and stay away from downed power lines!

With power outages come concerns about carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This colorless, odorless gas is created whenever a fuel is burned, so never cook or heat inside with a charcoal or gas grill. CO can kill you. Public Health – Seattle and King County has information on preventing CO poisoning, available in multiple languages.

The cold has also led to increased concern about frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Watch for symptoms such as slurred speech, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness, and body temperature of 95° F or less. Get medical help immediately if you think someone has frostbite or hypothermia
  • Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm up with a blanket or warm fluids like hot herbal tea or soup. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages if you think you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite
What you can do

With some melting now going on, please keep storm drains in your neighborhood clear of snow, ice, and other debris. Do not block storm drains with snow from your driveway or sidewalk. Never remove a storm drain lid or attempt to clean a drain located in a busy street.

With many people using fireplaces or space heaters to ward off the chill, incidents of household fires tend to rise. Clear away any snow and ice around fire hydrants in your neighborhood so that firefighters can reach them if needed. The home you save may be your own!

Some people, especially those who are older or who have access and functional needs, have not been able to leave their homes for days. As you’re able and willing, check on your friends, relatives, and neighbors to make sure they’re okay and see if they need any assistance.

Snow plus rain equals additional hazards

Deep snow levels, mixed with falling rain, can lead to heavy loads on rooftops and potential structural collapse or sliding snow. While most new structures are built to withstand heavier snow loads, buildings and structures with flat roofs, such as carports, are at greater risk of collapse. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the western third of King County until 4 a.m. Tuesday, February 12. Expect up to three inches of wet snow to fall from Seattle north overnight. Get the latest forecast and maps from the National Weather Service at weather.gov/seattle.

Use caution when clearing snow

  • If a roof (whether flat or sloped) is in eminent danger of collapse, stay away from the structure and call 9-1-1 for emergency help.
  • Removing snow from your roof with a shovel can trigger unexpected snow slides causing crushing/suffocating injuries or death. Keep people and animals away from potential slide zones.
  • It is strongly recommend you not access your roof to clear snow. Climbing on a roof increases the load already stressed by the heavy snow load. The use of ladders when removing snow from your roof can pose additional hazards.
  • Consider hiring experts who have experience and specialized equipment for safely clearing snow or ice.
  • Clear any accumulation of snow around side wall vents that connect to household appliances, such as a clothes dryer.

The National Weather Service’s latest forecast indicates a transition in precipitation from snow to rain, or a rain-snow mix, overnight. Temperatures are expected be just above freezing, reaching the low 40’s by Thursday.  Southeast winds

Prevent flooding around your home

  • Monitor neighborhood storm drains and keep them free of ice, snow and debris.
  • Do not block storm drains with snow from your driveway.
  • If the storm drain is blocked, use a shovel to clear the top of the grate, and break up and remove any built-up ice.
  • NEVER remove a storm drain lid or attempt to clean a drain located in a busy street.

Report and track power outages online

Power outages are on the increase. As of 7 p.m. Monday approximately 4,000 King County area Puget Sound Energy customers and more than 22,000 Seattle City Light customers were without power.

Know what to do when the power goes out.

Stormin’ is the norm; so is staying informed

We can expect the work week to be anything but “normal” as a series of winter storms continue to descend upon the Puget Sound region. Power outages could increase if slushy precipitation freezes, weighing down tree limbs. Travel could become precarious should added moisture turn roads into ice rinks. Some government and business services may be closed or delayed through tomorrow.

Given these conditions, residents are urged to remain at home if you can, check on neighbors who may need support, and be understanding that recovery from “Snowmaggedon2019” will take time. Emergency personnel, including road crews, utility and bus maintenance workers, law enforcement, fire, and others have been working long hours for more than a week to ensure public safety.

Stay informed

Garbage pick-up

  • Some solid waste companies are reporting cancellations to their residential garbage collections. Contact your hauler for updated schedule information. Find the hauler for your community: bit.ly/2X4JcuC
  • The Vashon Recycling and Transfer Station, and the Cedar Falls Drop Box in North Bend are closed. Both facilities are scheduled to be open for service on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Shelters and warming centers
King County and the City of Seattle have teams out around the clock to assist people experiencing homelessness and direct them to shelters or other services. King County has made 300 sleeping spaces available in or near downtown Seattle, and beds are available. These overnight shelters are located at the King County Administration Building, Fourth and Jefferson Building, and Harborview Hall.

The Jefferson Day Center is open daily at Fourth and Jefferson and a temporary warming center is open at the Administration Building through Tuesday, both from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. More than 150 people sought respite from the cold at the day center on Saturday and more than 200 people came indoors during the day on Sunday. For information on shelters around King County, call 2-1-1 or visit Crisis Connections.

Understand the different types of shelters:

  • Warming Centers are locations that provide a respite from the cold.
  • Day Centers are spaces that provide services such as case management, hygiene, etc.. and respite from the cold.
  • Overnight Shelters (often called “Emergency Shelters”) are locations that provide overnight accommodations for people who are homeless.
  • 24/7 Shelters (often called “Enhanced Shelters”) are spaces that provide both overnight accommodations and warmth during the day with access to services.
  • Severe Weather Shelters are locations that provide overnight accommodations for people who are homeless only during severe weather situations (as defined by local jurisdictions).

Public transit 

  • Riders who intend to use King County Metro’s services should visit the Emergency Snow Network webpage to view details about routes in operation and to identify their options. ESN routes will travel on posted snow routes unless otherwise communicated. The Customer Information Office is available at 6 a.m. to assist riders with trip planning, at 206-553-3000.
  • Sound Transit’s Link light rail has been operating its normal schedule and has been offering reliable service.
  • Sound Transit’s Sounder Trains had slight delays early on today, but are back to regularly scheduled service this afternoon.

Public Health centers

Most Public Health Center locations are open today, Monday Feb. 11, 2019. However, some specific clinics are closed. If you are scheduled for an appointment on Monday or want a walk-in appointment, please call in advance to confirm the clinic’s hours. You also may re-schedule your appointment for another day. If you are having trouble reaching a clinic, please call the Public Health Call Center at 206-263-9300.

February 12 Special Election

  • Due to inclement weather, the Accessible Voting Center at Union Station in Seattle will be closed Monday, February 11 and Election Day Tuesday, February 12. Voters can still cast their ballots at the Accessible Voting Center in the King County Elections building in Renton. Voters can also cast a ballot at the Elections Annex in downtown Seattle.
  • Ballot drop boxes that are not located in a jurisdiction with an election are also closed. A list of open drop boxes is available on the King County Elections website.
  • Voters who need a replacement ballot can access one online or contact King County Elections at 206-296-VOTE (8683) for assistance. Ballots must be postmarked by February 12 or returned to a drop box by 8 p.m. Election Day.

Volunteer opportunity

Pets are affected by severe weather too. Anyone interested in volunteering with Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) may attend the next New Volunteer Orientation on March 19 at 4 p.m. Orientations are held at the Pet Adoption Center in Kent. To register or learn more about volunteering, visit kingcounty.gov/RASKCVolunteer.