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Spokane calls stage 2 emergency; plows working regionwide

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 7, 2013, 11:38 a.m.

The City of Spokane upgraded today’s snow emergency from stage 1 to a more severe stage 2 condition, meaning crews will work 24 hours a day to plow arterials, bus routes and hill routes before moving to flatter residential terrain in a citywide plowing effort.

In addition, the city is bringing on private contractors with graders to help in the effort, which in the past has taken about two days or longer.

Mayor David Condon made the decision to move to a stage 2 condition as the extent of the snow emergency became evident by mid-morning.

In Spokane County, crews working with 90 pieces of equipment are now on an around-the-clock effort to clear 2,500 miles of roads. Crews will work in 12-hour shifts during the snow emergency.

As in the city, crews have a priority system of plowing emergency routes and major arterials before moving to secondary arterials and hilly residential areas. Flatter terrain will be plowed last.

In Spokane Valley, crews were working on primary and secondary arterials and hilly residential streets.

Residents were reminded to clear sidewalks so that people who have to walk, especially school children, will be able to do so, officials there said.

Spokane Valley managers have not said whether they will plow residential streets in flatter areas.

Post Falls was expected to complete a full citywide plow of arterials and residential streets by tonight.

Coeur d’Alene launched a citywide plow and was 90 percent finished by late afternoon. Crews were headed back to arterials for another pass, said City Administrator Wendy Gabriel.

The Washington State Department of Transportation had about 100 pieces of snow removal equipment out on state highways in the seven-county eastern region, said Al Gilson, DOT spokesman in Spokane.

Highways south of Spokane had some drifting snow in places. Otherwise, compact snow and ice was widespread across the region.

However, Interstate 90 was wet with slush in places from the Spokane area east to Idaho by noon.

Earlier, Spokane city officials declared a stage 1 snow condition, which involves plowing of main arterials, bus routes and hill routes.

Moving to stage 2 means that the entire city will be plowed under a priority system.

The National Weather Service reported 5 to 6 inches about 8 a.m. across the Spokane area with up to 7 inches by 10 a.m. in Airway Heights.

The city fired up about 50 of their snow removal and treatment vehicles to work on arterials early this morning. They transitioned to plowing residential streets around 9 a.m., clearing streets in the Indian Trail, Five Mile and Eagle Ridge areas.

Cars parked along arterials and bus routes were to be moved by 11 a.m. today. In hilly residential areas, the city wanted all vehicles parked on the even-numbered sides of streets starting at 6 p.m. In flatter terrain, residents can wait until 11 p.m. to move vehicles.

The order means that vehicles should be moved to the side of the street where the house numbers end with an even number of 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8.

Last year, the city got poor compliance with the requirement that vehicles be moved to one side of the street during plowing efforts. Enforcement of the rule has been an issue.

Vehicles must be moved from downtown street parking slots to allow for a clean plowing effort downtown from 2 to 6 a.m.

Browne’s Addition will be plowed on an announced schedule in which vehicles must be moved off streets set for plowing during the announced times.

Residents can help out by clearing snow from fire hydrants and by helping neighbors, especially those who are elderly or have disabilities, in removing snow from their driveways and sidewalks.

Snow should not be plowed or blown onto public streets, sidewalks and alleys, officials said. Under lighter snow storms, that is not a big problem, but when heavy snow accumulates, moving snow into the right of way can cause trouble keeping thoroughfares and sidewalks cleared.

Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman, said in a press release, “Under the city’s snow removal plan, officials can call for a stage 1 snow condition when there is at least 2 inches of snow on the ground and 4 or more in the forecast. A stage 2 condition, which includes a full city plow of all arterial and residential streets, is triggered when there are 6 inches of snow on the ground and more anticipated.”

Feist added, “Please assist your neighbors who may need help removing snow from their driveways and sidewalks.”

According to the city’s website, “A Stage 1 snow declaration means that city snow removal crews will work 24 hours a day to plow all arterials, Spokane Transit Authority fixed bus routes and all streets in the city’s residential hill routes—those numbered 20 and above on the residential plow route map.”

Tags: snow, weather