SDOT tweaks Seattle plow routes as it prepares for snow later on in winter

SDOT employs roughly 35 plows in the event of snow. (SDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

With Seattle already having seen its first snowy day of the winter, the city’s Department of Transportation is providing details on how it plans to respond if or when a larger snow event arrives later in the season.

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Much like it’s done in past winters, SDOT prioritizes the use of roughly 35 snow plows for roughly 1,200 miles worth of “Seattle’s most critical routes to hospitals, schools, emergency services and shelters.”

It will be making a slight tweak to that plan this season though, by adjusting plow routes to account for the ongoing closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Routes to COVID-19 testing sites will also be prioritized.

While SDOT clears city streets, the Washington State Department of Transportation lends a hand by constantly clearing interstate highways to ensure crucial roadways like I-5 remain safe for drivers.

As for sidewalks, that’s where the city’s residents are asked to pitch in.

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“With over 2,400 miles of sidewalk in Seattle, we need your help to clear ice and snow from the sidewalks around your home, business, and/or job site,” SDOT detailed. “Stock up, shovel nearby sidewalks, and help keep everyone in Seattle moving safely.”

To predict when and where snow might arrive, the city uses a forecasting tool developed by the University of Washington known as “SNOWWATCH.” That tool enables SDOT to see which specific neighborhoods will be affected most, and then allocate crews accordingly.

Additionally, Seattle’s bridges are equipped with sensors that “provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures.” Combined with traffic cameras situated across the city, SDOT has the means to monitor any fallout from a major snow event in real time.

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