SPOKANE, Wash. – The City of Spokane declared a stage two snow event on Monday morning.
City leaders said cars should be moved to the even side of the street on residential hill routes to allow plows to pass. They also ask that sidewalks be cleared within the next 24 hours.
A stage two event is normally announced when there are six or more inches of snow on the ground. The city will initiate a full city plow and normally use private contract crews to help clear areas of snow.
City officials said it takes about four days to snow plow the entire city.
As of about Monday morning, the city has 20 pieces of equipment focused on snow emergency routes which includes arterials, hospital routes, STA fixed bus routes, outlying area, neighborhood business centers, the central business district and residential hills.
"Now that we've gotten all this moisture and everything, it started to fluff up where actually the depth has increased, so that's another reason why we're getting into residential streets," explained Mark Serbousek, the city street manager. "It came a little bit more than what people thought was going to come, so that put us into a stage one, and in fact the residentials even are showing more snow, so that's why we went to a stage two."
Crews are on a 24 hour staffing schedule in response to the storm. They said Monday they will focus on the arterials, hospital district routs, STA fixed bus routes, outlying areas, neighborhood business centers, central business districts and residential hills.
Browne's Addition plowing specifically has not been scheduled, but city officials said it will happen at the end of the four day city-wide plow.
"We recognize that finding snow in your driveway and having to shovel back into your sidewalks is frustrating," said David Condon, the Spokane mayor. "So we do ask for your patience and understanding."
City officials ask that drivers slow down, drive according to the conditions on the roads, and give plows some space on the roadways. Drivers should move their cars to the even side of the road so the plows can pass and get more of the street cleared.
"Spokane has experienced quite a bit of snowfall in the past few weeks and space to clear it has become limited," Condon said. He mentioned the "snow boot" tool they are testing on one of their snow plows that would prevent snow plows from dropping large snow berms in front of driveways.
As for Spokane County, crews have also been on full snow response since Sunday. County officials said they have 90 pieces of equipment out in all four road districts.
“We’re throwing everything we’ve got at this," said Martha Lou Wheatley-Billerter, the information officer for Spokane County Public Works. "What we’re really trying to do is clear out as much of the county road system as we can before it turns so cold and the snow turns hard and icy.”
She said once the snow hardens and ices, it slows down the clearing process and it is hard on the equipment.
“When there are crises, we really need to take care of each other," said Wheatley-Billerter. "We need the public to be patient and look out for their neighbors."
Wheatley-Billerter suggested for those who need help to clear the snow, they ask family or local community centers for volunteers.
Spokane County has more than 2,100 miles of roads the snow plows need to clear.