Pierce County road crews respond to snow storm, icy streets

Pierce County Roads Operations officials said today that crews working over the weekend reported no injuries, no equipment damage, or breakdowns resulting in downtime during the weekend winter storm.

According to division manager Bruce Wagner, the cold temperatures affected roads at lower elevations approx 12 hours later than crews originally forecast. Accumulating snowfall began above 1,000 feet Friday evening in the Elbe, Ashford, Greenwater and Fairfax areas. These locations continued to receive accumulations through Friday night and most of Saturday — up to 12 inches at Crystal River Ranch/Greenwater. “Though wet snow fell at lower elevations at times Saturday, most roads were not significantly affected until later Saturday evening,” said Wagner. “Conditions afforded our crews time to apply anti-icing liquids to most roads before the arctic air pushed the temps below freezing for the longer term.”

Most areas of the county received light accumulations overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning. Crews received a moderate volume of calls for icy roads during Sunday morning’s commute period. Roads above 500 feet were hit the hardest keeping crews busy applying salt and sand to achieve bare pavements. Snowfall began again in central and west areas of the county at approximately 4 p.m. and continued until 7 p.m. Pavement temps had dropped well below freezing by this time, so snow affected roads that had not been treated with salt.

Sunday night crews continued work to remove the remaining compact snow and ice in preparation for Monday’s morning commute. A full shift contingent (26 plows; seven anti-icer applicator trucks; three graders; six loader operators, and mechanics at each dispatch location) worked until midnight.

Wagner reported a full shift would be working ahead of Monday’s commute with 11 trucks starting at midnight and the balance starting at 4 a.m. The latest forecast predicts that very cold temperatures will continue well into the week. No precipitation is expected until sometime late Tuesday when another threat of snow presents itself. Daytime highs are not expected to rise above freezing until late in the week at least.