Snow and Storm Operations
When a snow, ice or even wind storm is projected to impact the city, road crews will be monitoring the situation to assess the best approach to treating and clearing snow or debris from city streets.
Deicing & Salting
Liquid deicing and in some cases, salt, is applied on bridges, arterial intersections, school zones, specific hillsides and at critical intersections when snow, ice or frost is predicted. When ice begins to accumulate on the roadway, solid granular deicer is utilized. Granular deicer may also be used on arterial streets if conditions warrant. Deicer is generally not applied to residential streets on the valley floor except at controlled intersections and in selected problem areas.
When the snow starts to fall, city road crews go into action. Primary travel routes - which include main arterial streets, critical intersections and hillside roads - are plowed whenever there is snow accumulation.
When possible, a primary plow takes place overnight because it is the safest time for both citizens and the plow driver as there is less traffic on the roads. Also, the faster that roadways are cleared the less likelihood that snow will become an ice layer.
The city has roads that are maintained and plowed by state road crews. Trent Avenue (SR 290) and Pines Road (Highway 27) are plowed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). For more information on these roads, contact WSDOT at 509-324-6000. In addition, privately owned roads within the city limits are not plowed by the city.
Full Residential Plow
Residential streets on the valley floor are considered for plowing when the city receives more than 3 inches of snow and traffic flow is significantly reduced. There are 624 lane miles to plow, and it takes about 48 hours a full residential plow. When the city initiates a full residential plow, residents can track the progress on a snowplowing map.
After the city completes a full residential plow, residents who feel their street may have been missed can request service via the city's SVexpress to report their concern. Residents will need to provide a street location (address) and contact information to the city.
Sidewalk Snow Removal
To help keep sidewalks safer for schoolchildren, seniors and those with mobility concerns, community members are responsible for keeping their sidewalks cleared when 3 or more inches of snow/ice accumulate. The requirement applies to sidewalks in both commercial and residential areas. Sidewalks must be cleared within 48 hours after a storm has passed. The city does not provide resources to help residents physically clear their snow from sidewalks or driveways.
- When will my street get plowed?
Primary routes are plowed whenever there is snow accumulation. Residential streets are considered for plowing when traffic flow is significantly reduced. If the City starts a full residential plow, we will post on Facebook and Twitter and send an email to interested citizens. You can sign up to receive snow information.
- What streets are included in the primary routes?
Primary plowing routes include arterials, hillsides and critical intersections.
- What streets are included in residential routes?
Residential routes are the streets on the valley floor in residential areas.
Crews & Equipment
- Public Works staff monitors weather reports and directs crew activities
- 5 regular driver/operators with additional contracted personnel as needed
- 8 Plow/Sander Trucks
- 3 Plow/Deicer Trucks
- 1 Backhoe
- 40,000-gallon storage system for liquid deicer
- 1,000-ton enclosed storage building for granular deicer
- Additional contract personnel and equipment are available for extreme weather conditions
- On-call road graders are used when residential streets require plowing
- 24/7 operations