Snow piles up on the Plateau
April 30, 2009 · Updated 10:57 AM
for rest of the week
By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald
An early morning snowstorm hit the Plateau and Puget Sound region Monday, dropping about 3 inches of snow, closing schools and snarling traffic.
By 5 a.m. the Enumclaw, White River and Sumner school districts had closed schools due to the slippery road conditions. Secondary students in the Sumner district already had the day off.
State Route 410 from Elhi Hill to 191st Avenue East was closed at 6:30 a.m. with multiple accidents.
Bonney Lake Public Works Director Dan Grigsby reported the city's four snowplows were out in force. Three of the plows were equipped with sand spreaders.
Pierce County sent 22 snowplows and sanding units out across the area as snow continued to fall through the morning hours.
Emergency calls flooded into East Pierce Fire and Rescue beginning with a Sunday night call concerning a vehicle over an embankment north of Wilkeson.
The driver and a passenger, a man and woman, drove up a forest service road past Sunset Lake earlier Sunday and got stuck. The made their way back to town and picked up a truck to pull the vehicle out. They could not free the vehicle and on their way back to Wilkeson, slid off the road and fell down a 30-foot embankment before hitting a tree.
East Pierce Assistant Chief Russ McCallion said it took three hours to rescue the pair.
During the rescue operation a firefighter and Pierce County Sheriff's Deputy were injured.
The driver of the vehicle, the passenger, the firefighter and a deputy were all taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment of injuries.
Bonney Lake police officers and East Pierce firefighters and emergency personnel were busy with vehicle accident calls during the morning commute, including two on SR 410 near 8 a.m.
East Pierce Fire Chief Dan Packer sent out a warning to citizens concerning barbecue grills or generators used inside buildings, including garages. Both produce deadly carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can build-up inside unventilated homes, creating a poisonous atmosphere.
Packer reported his crews treated two cases of carbon monoxide poisoning Monday morning.
The chief suggested residents invest in a carbon monoxide detector for their homes.
According to East Pierce officials, during 2006 hundreds of people became ill and 15 people died in the Puget Sound area from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to stay warm during December storms.
The following is information from the city concerning snow removal procedures and tips for residents and drivers during snowstorms.
Public works crews clear snow from priority roads first. Priority roads include those around hospitals, schools, hills or steep slopes and main arteries. Crews try to have all roads cleared as quickly as possible and they treat a snowstorm as an emergency. Overtime is started as soon as it is needed and all available trucks are put to work.
Sanding starts when icy conditions warrant it. Sand is applied only on hills, on the stop lanes at intersections and where requested by the police department. Snow plowing starts on steep slopes when accumulations of one or more inches of snow occur to minimize ice formation.
Resident and Driver Tips
Park all vehicles, trailers, and boats off of streets, until the snow is removed. Ridges of snow around vehicles parked on streets will freeze and prevent or slow down future snow removal and may cause accidents when any vehicle hits them.
Clear snow from side walks as soon as possible, but not later than 12 hours after snow has ceased to fall. This is to prevent the snow from turning into an icy hazard for pedestrians, which forces them to walk in the street.
Do not place snow removed from driveways or sidewalks onto the street.
Aim snow blowers into front yards away from sidewalks, the parking strip and the street. Ice and rocks, as well as powder snow are blown out many feet. This material can hit parked or passing cars, which can cause damage to those vehicles and accidents. Snow blown onto the street will freeze and become a slick spot, which may cause accidents.
Place snow, shoved into your driveways by snowplows, onto the area between your sidewalk, curb or park strip, but not into the street or gutter. Otherwise, if this pile of snow is shoved back into the street, it will freeze and become hidden by new snow. When snowplows or other vehicles hit the pile of ice, they can be shoved back into the traffic lanes and might hit passing or parked cars. Placing snow into the gutters will slow down or block drainage.
Give sand spreader and snowplows plenty of room. Don't follow too closely. Equipment could slide sideways or backwards at any time. Don't pass these vehicles if you can avoid it. Be patient.
Drive defensively. Salt and sand trucks will generally only be used on hills and intersections. Other areas will remain icy. Slow down and increase distance from the vehicle in front of you. Four wheel vehicles may help gain traction initially, but once you start sliding a four-wheel vehicles are no better then any others.
Volunteer your services. Help your neighbors who can't clear their own driveways and sidewalks.
Remove snow from around fire hydrants near your home. This may help save lives and property.
Clear snow from around mailboxes. Sometimes snowplow crews will not push snow all the way to the curb and will block access to the mailbox. Consider use of a temporary mailbox until the snow melts.