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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
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Jan. 18, 2012

EVENING UPDATE: Don’t be fooled by calm weather, travel is still difficult

King County urges residents to use caution if traveling, be patient, dress warmly, focus on personal safety - know before you go

The flakes may have stopped flying, but residents should use caution if they must commute to work, and are urged to telecommute on Thursday if possible. The weather forecast still predicts cold temperatures, and snow and ice will not melt off roadways overnight.

While road crews will be working through the night, Thursday morning, drivers and bus riders will meet with potentially worse road conditions than today. Individuals who must travel to work on Thursday should take their time, be patient, and emphasize safety over getting to a destination quickly.

King County Operations: Some King County agencies are reporting altered operations tonight, Wednesday, and tomorrow, Thursday. Updated closures are posted online in real time at www.kingcounty.gov. We will send a comprehensive list of affected operations on Thursday morning. Here is a list of operations that are currently affected:

  • Vashon Water Taxi: The 5:30 and 6:30 evening sailings of the Downtown Seattle/Vashon Island Water Taxi have been canceled due to high winds. Normal service will resume tomorrow morning. West Seattle sailings are not affected.
  • Board of Health: The King County Board of Health is canceling its meeting for this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board will be Thursday, February 16 at 1:30 p.m. in King County Council Chambers.
  • Public Health Centers: Public Health Centers may have limited services. If you plan to get services at a Public Health Center or other Public Health location, please call before you leave home to find out if the service is available. Contact information is available on the Public Health website at www.kingcounty.gov/health.
  • King County International Airport: Big runway is open, small runway is closed. No impact to air traffic.
  • Marymoor Park: Practices and matches scheduled for the synthetic soccer fields at Marymoor Park are canceled for Wednesday, January 18. Please call 206-205-3661. Events booked at the Clise Mansion for January 18 have also been rescheduled or canceled.
  • Garbage collection service disruptions: Disruptions in garbage collection are being reported in several areas of King County. Customers who are missed on their regular collection day this week are asked to secure their garbage and put it out for collection on their regular day next week. There are several companies providing garbage-collection services throughout King County, and residents are urged to contact their individual hauler for information: http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/garbage-recycling/garbage.asp
  • Metro Transit: King County Metro Transit will keep its buses chained up and on snow routing for a fifth straight day on Thursday, Jan. 19, as the region recovers from significant snowfall. Depending on the roads and traffic, bus service will probably still be significantly disrupted and delayed on Thursday. Metro plans to operate the same level of service it had today with up to 30 routes canceled on Thursday. Please consider limiting travel if at all possible. Travel conditions could change overnight or during the day, so please check Metro's snow page (www.kingcounty.gov/metro/snow) for the current status of bus service.
  • Online Services Available: King County residents may be able to obtain some services online, such as pet licensing, car tabs, marriage licenses by mail, property tax payments, business licensing and more.

King County Roads

King County Road Services Division crews are currently reporting very hazardous driving conditions along with several road closures. Most of the county's road response has focused on plowing and sanding. In many parts of the county, the snow has come down so hard and fast, snow response has been mostly confined to heavily traveled arterials in the county.

Currently eight roads are closed, including:

• SE. Lake Holmes Rd. between Auburn-Black Diamond Rd. and 129th Way SE near Auburn
• 103 Ave. SW. between SW. 112th St. and Vashon Hwy SW., Vashon
• 87 Ave. SW. between Dockton Rd. and SW. Cemetery Rd., Vashon
• SW. 268th St. between 94 Ave. SW. and Dockton Rd. SW., Vashon
• 58th Pl. S. between West Valley Hwy. S. and 55th Ave. S. near Algona
• 56th Pl. S. between 55th Pl. S. and West Valley Hwy. S. near Algona
• S. Star Lake Rd. between S. 277th St. and 52nd Ave. S. near Auburn
• 55th Ave. S. between S. 277th St. and S. 284th Way near Auburn

Motorists should continue to monitor travel conditions and road closures by visiting King County's MyCommute website. About 150 field staff continue to work twelve-hour shifts to support 24-hour operations countywide. That around-the-clock schedule will continue until conditions improve. The county has about 50 pieces of snow removal equipment (ranging from snowplows and sanders to anti-icing vehicles) available to maintain 1300 miles of urban, suburban and rural roads in unincorporated King County.

While county crews will continue to tend to snow and ice, roadways can quickly refreeze. Steep roads, less traveled roads and bridges can be particularly hazardous, especially at night and during the early morning hours as commuters head out to work. For more information about the King County Road Services Division's snow and ice plan online.

If residents must leave home to get on the roads in the morning, check local traffic cameras to be aware of conditions: http://info.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/Roads/TrafficCameras/allcameras/

Use Caution When Clearing Snow

Snow mixed with rain falling on the deep, heavy snow already around the region can create a potential hazard by growing snow loads on rooftops, which could lead to structural collapse or sliding snow.

Most new structures are built to withstand typical snow load events in King County. However buildings and structures with flat roofs are at a greater risk of collapse. With wet snow or ice the risk is higher as the loads are much heavier than regular snow.

The King County Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) urges the following precautions:

  • 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 not to access your roof to clear snow. The use of ladders when removing snow from your roof can pose additional hazards. Climbing on a roof increases the load already stressed by the heavy snow load. Consider hiring experts who have experience and specialized equipment for safely clearing snow or ice.
  • Clear any accumulation of snow around side wall vents for appliances.

If you are in unincorporated King County, the Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) can conduct safety assessments and damage inspections of your house. Contact DDES at 206-296-6630 Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. to schedule an inspection. For inspections on buildings inside city limits, you must contact the city directly.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you. Carbon monoxide gas comes from burning fuels such as gasoline, propane, oil, kerosene, natural gas, coal or wood.

Prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide:

  • Only use a generator outdoors and far from open windows and vents
  • Never use a generator or portable propane heater indoors, in garages or carports
  • Never cook or heat inside on a charcoal or gas grill.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen suddenly and without warning. Physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include splitting headache, nausea and vomiting, and lethargy and fatigue.

If you believe you could be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Call for medical help from a neighbor's home. The Fire Department will tell you when it is safe to reenter the home.

For a full list of carbon monoxide prevention tips and other safety and disaster information in English and other languages, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/disaster.

Warming Facilities Throughout King County

As warming centers open in King County, including cities within the county, the list will be updated online at www.kingcounty.gov/prepare.