Blowing and drifting snow leading to several road closures

By Ryan Overton

Trying. That's the phrase we're utilizing to describe this month for Eastern Washington. We're on tempo to see Spokane's second-highest snowfall for February and it simply retains on coming: as of Wednesday, Feb. 27, we've five highways – State Routes 27, 261, 21, 241 and 221 – closed as a result of extreme winter climate adding blowing and drifting snow and lowered visibility.
Some of the drifting snow on SR 27 created snow banks more than 12 feet high.

And conditions will no longer be getting better. Winds have been gusting, extra snow is forecast and our crews are operating difficult to maintain up. All of our latest street closures are south of I-90 the place the land is flatter with rolling hills, and the wind is capable to journey freely and push snow around. We plow and clean a roadway merely to have snow drift once more in simply minutes. In one instance, 4 ft of snow drifted once more at the street inside an hour.

In town, winds appear calmer, snow is no longer drifting and folks would possibly assume it is no longer that bad...but it is. Towns like Tekoa have homes and timber to sluggish the fee of wind. Outside of town, the wind and blowing snow go proper via and over the rolling hills. This blows a enormous quantity of snow onto the freeway and makes visibility tough, conditions that threaten public security and result in street closures.

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, I rode with our crews on SR 27. Because of the conditions, it took NULL plow trucks, a grader and blower virtually all day to do NULL passes of a 10-mile stretch at the closed highway. We have been lastly capable to reopen the street inside the afternoon, nevertheless it was closed once more nine hours later. Thank you Mother Nature! We saw a few snow banks that have been extra than 12-feet tall!

Our crews are doing the finest they'll with the instruments we have. For example, the Colfax upkeep facility is guilty for roughly 895 miles of road, adding SR 27, and have about 35 street staff workers, with 20 vans at the street at any given time. They cannot be anywhere at once, so we base our reaction on precedence for every roadway. For the Colfax region, US 195 is a high-priority roadway on account of the degree of visitors versus that on SR 27. They attempt to get anywhere they can, nevertheless it is no simple task.

We do no longer near roads with out reason. Our street crews overview the security of the roadway floor as properly simply due to the fact the climate conditions and visibility earlier than making that call. But while we do near a road, we desire the public to comply. When human being drives round a barrier or signal indicating a closed road, they usually get caught and our crews ought to go in and help. Not merely does this placed our crews at risk, it takes them clear of different work like clearing and treating different highways.

It has been a making an attempt month. Our crews are operating round the clock to get roadways open and clear. We relish your persistence and realizing as we work to do so. Hopefully March brings a few reduction for the Inland Northwest.


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