New Year's Eve revelers and others should be extra cautious this year, with snow in the forecast for Saturday evening to Sunday morning. People driving and walking -- those who must travel -- will see slippery roads and sidewalks.
Forecasters currently are calling for 1 to 4 inches of snow in Bellevue Saturday evening and early Sunday, with less accumulation at lower elevations and more at higher ones. Snow and ice could stick around for a while too, as temperatures are expected to fall into the 20s Sunday night (New Year's Day) and drop into the teens on Monday and Tuesday nights.
City crews from the Transportation, Utilities, Parks and Civic Services departments are on standby around the clock in case they are needed to plow roads over the weekend. The Office of Emergency Management is also monitoring the situation. Bellevue residents are encouraged to prepare their homes and vehicles now for possible snow and cold weather.
In hilly Bellevue, responding to snow and ice can be a challenge -- elevations vary from near sea level to more than 1,400 feet south of Interstate 90. The city's fleet of seven four-by-four vehicles and eight larger, five-yard capacity trucks generally is adequate to plow snow at higher elevations.
However, in the event of a citywide storm, priority routes used by emergency vehicles take precedence over streets in residential neighborhoods. A snow response priorities map shows which city streets will be plowed first. The focus is to do the most good for the most people.
Here are some tips and resources for dealing with ice and snow:
- Get ready: Create an emergency preparedness kit with at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for home and office, make a plan and practice the plan with your family, get your house ready for cold weather and take precautions with pets. More resources are available at Take Winter by Storm;
- Reporting trouble: Only call 911 for life-threatening emergencies. Call the city's Operations and Maintenance Support line at 425-452-7840 to report trees or other hazards in the roadway;
- Driving: Prepare for difficult driving if roads are icy, plan your routes, and avoid peak commute hours if possible. Drive only if necessary and go slow, allowing extra following distance. Have traction devices in your vehicle and test new chains to make sure they fit. Treat dark intersections as four-way stops;
- Power outages: If you lose power, to prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide, NEVER use a gas or charcoal grill indoors, and NEVER use a generator indoors; only use outdoors far from open windows or vents. Call Puget Sound Energy at 1-888-225-5773 to report a power outage; you can also report it online and check PSE's outage map;
- Warming centers: The public is welcome to come to Bellevue's four community centers (Crossroads, Highland, North Bellevue and South Bellevue) during regular hours of operations;
- Garbage collection: If snow prevents the safe collection of curbside garbage, recycling, or organics, please remove carts from the street by the end of the day. On your next scheduled collection day, up to twice the regular amount of material will be collected at no additional charge. Questions should be directed to city's solid waste provider, Republic Services, at 425-452-4762; and
- Stay informed: Bellevue uses various social media channels and its website to inform the public during storms and other emergencies. Visit the city home page for updated information during a storm, or sign up for email notifications on the Extreme Weather Response page, where there are links to emergency preparedness pages on a range of topics.
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