Port Townsend Public Works Crew Chief Chris MacDonald, left, stands with Tracy Benson, equipment operator, on Wednesday in front of one of the snow plows they and their other team members will use to keep roads clear in Port Townsend. Snow is forecast in the next few days. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Public Works Crew Chief Chris MacDonald, left, stands with Tracy Benson, equipment operator, on Wednesday in front of one of the snow plows they and their other team members will use to keep roads clear in Port Townsend. Snow is forecast in the next few days. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Jefferson County road crews prepare for snow

Heavy snow possible in south county this weekend

PORT TOWNSEND — Public Works officials in Jefferson County are preparing for possible snow accumulations beginning this evening.

About an inch is expected to fall today in Port Townsend, with increasing levels possible near the Hood Canal overnight, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

While Thursday evening is predicted to have little accumulation, Friday night into Saturday snowfall is more of a question of how much will accumulate, NWS meteorologist Dana Felton said.

As of Wednesday morning, NWS was predicting the potential for up to 4 inches of snow accumulation in Port Townsend on Friday night into Saturday, with areas around the Hood Canal such as Brinnon and Quilcene possibly having 6 to 12 inches of snow, Felton said.

The West End is under a severe weather warning through Friday morning, with high winds and up to 8 inches of snow possible.

The snow is due to precipitation blowing in from the coast and mixing with colder air from Canada’s Fraser Outflow, Felton said.

While there may not be much accumulation tonight, icy roads are expected each morning, he added.

Road crews for Jefferson County and Port Townsend have been preparing their plows, sand and salt for the snowfall, officials said, as have their counterparts in Clallam County and the cities of Port Angeles and Sequim.

Port Townsend Public Works does not salt roads. Instead, crews use plows and sand, said Steve King, director.

Jefferson County Public Works had already started using salt on some county roads to prevent ice from forming due to the low temperatures, said Matt Stewart, road maintenance superintendent for the county Public Works Department.

Steward added that ice is easier to prevent than it is to melt after it has formed.

The city has three plow trucks with 10-foot-long blades and three pickup trucks with 8-foot-long blades. The county has six vehicles with 10- to 11-foot-long plows at its Port Hadlock location, four in Quilcene and two in West Jefferson County, King and Stewart said.

The county also has three smaller plow vehicles that do not need a commercial driver’s license to operate — making them easier to staff, if needed — with two on hand in Port Hadlock and one in the west end of the county, Stewart said.

Both King and Stewart will have crews on hand 24 hours a day while the snow is forecast.

“I come from Wenatchee — a little snow country — and I’m just very impressed with the preparations that crews do here and how they address it,” King said. “We’re prepared for the end of this week, and we’ll see what happens.

“We’ll just be prepared and ready to roll when it hits us.”

There are about 400 miles of road for which county public works is responsible. When snowstorms hit, they plow and salt about a quarter of that first and service the remainder as soon as they are able, Stewart said.

City officials manage 88 miles of road, according to the city’s website.

Both the county and the city have maps online about each of their road-clearing priorities.

County road maps can be found at tinyurl.com/PDN-SnowIce. City road priority maps can be found at tinyurl.com/PDN-SnowRoutes.

With snowfall in the forecast, both officials recommend getting errands done before it hits, to limit the amount of non-essential trips needed when snow is covering the roads.

“Thursday and Friday night, avoid non-essential trips,” Stewart said. “I’m hoping that’s not a big deal this year.

“We’re supposed to be avoiding non-essential trips anyway due to COVID.”

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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