SEATTLE — Cities and counties across the Puget Sound region prepare for inclement winter weather every year. This includes a planned response to keep key priority routes open, including major arterials.
A planned response keeps essential services going and keeps access to hospitals open.
There are about 1,200 lane miles of major streets in Seattle alone. It can take crews up to 12 hours to clear all that ground after a break in a storm. With that in mind, many side streets across the region go largely untouched.
Below are the storm response maps from counties and major cities in the Puget Sound region:
City winter storm response plans
In Everett, snow plowing begins when snow depth on streets begins impacting traffic, unless it is apparent it will not be necessary by changing weather conditions, such as rising temperatures and rain melt.
During a severe winter storm, crews in Seattle work around the clock to clear the city's main roads for buses and emergency services. When snow begins to fall, crews plow their routes and treat them as needed.
Tacoma prioritizes primary arterial streets, followed by secondary and auxiliary routes. City crews clear snow from one lane of traffic in each direction on priority routes.
County storm response plans
Public Works is responsible for approximately 1,650 total miles of county-maintained roads. Priority routes are based on traffic volume, transit and school bus routes.
King County treats and plows 583 miles of snow and ice routes. The county warns that if you do not live along a designated route, be prepared to stay home.
Pierce County prioritizes major roads connecting residential areas with essential services and state highways. Transit and school bus routes are also prioritized.
Roads with a priority level are the first to be plowed or sanded during winter weather. As those are cleared or sanded, secondary roads are cleared. Snow plows do not operate until 1 inch of snow has fallen.
In Kitsap, routes are designated priority 1, priority 2 and local access and residential. Priority 1 routes are worked on until they are cleared, allowing clearing of the other routes.