Weathering La Niña | A city and county guide to preparing for winter storms

Look out for La Niña. Although last winter was mild in Redmond and King County, weather forecasters warn of a colder, wetter winter this year. Don’t be complacent. Now is the time to stock up on supplies and learn what to do — or not to do — if severe weather strikes.

In case of heavy snowfall

Look out for La Niña.

Although last winter was mild in Redmond and King County, weather forecasters warn of a colder, wetter winter this year. Don’t be complacent. Now is the time to stock up on supplies and learn what to do — or not to do — if severe weather strikes.

“TAKE FIVE” — OR EVEN SEVEN

Three days used to be the recommended timeframe for stocking up on emergency supplies. Now city and county emergency managers say three days is the minimum, but having five to seven days of supplies, per person, is a more prudent plan. Checklists can be found on the following Web sites:

• City of Redmond Disaster Preparedness: http://www.redmond.gov/DisasterPrep

• Take Winter By Storm: http://www.govlink.org/storm

Also, be aware of “who does what” and who will respond to your winter weather concerns, depending on where you live or work in the City of Redmond or unincorporated King County.

IN THE CITY OF REDMOND

“We have experienced extreme winter weather events in the past — such as extended power outages, strong winds, snow and ice — and will again,” said Lynn Sterbenz from the Redmond Office of Emergency Management. “Transportation will be hampered. It is critical that citizens not travel on the roads unless absolutely necessary. Remember that it can take up to 72 hours for all roads to be cleared of snow. Schools and businesses may be closed and stores may not be restocked on schedule. It is imperative that individuals and families have enough food and water for up to seven days.”

Also, said Sterbenz, “During a severe or winter storm, please remember to call 9-1-1 only in the event of a true emergency such as a house fire or life-threatening incident. When transportation is severely impaired by snow, ice, downed tree limbs and power outages, even the first responders will have difficulty getting around.”

For non-emergencies, call Redmond Police at (425) 556-2500.

Bert Guenther, public works operations manager for the City of Redmond noted, “We have added additional equipment, upgraded our existing snow plows and modified processes and procedures. We have also significantly improved our ability to utilize an anti-icing product that can be applied to streets before a forecasted snow fall or icing conditions. This product reduces the adhesion between the road surface and snow/ice, making the snow easier to plow. This same product can be used to melt snow/ice on the roadway and will be applied during sand application to improve traction while helping melt the snow/ice.”

The city has established snow routes. Download a map at http://www.redmond.gov/DisasterPrep/wintersnowice.asp.

Priority areas — in the following order — are roads near hospitals and schools, arterials leading in and out of Redmond, arterials located on hills in Redmond and then all other arterials. Not every street can be plowed or sanded but if you have questions, call Redmond Public Works at (425) 556-2701.

The city posts emergency updates on its Web site, www.redmond.gov and its radio station 1650 AM.

“Another source of information during storm events, that is available all year long, is the city’s network of traffic cameras,” Guenther commented. “Cameras will allow citizens to check out their route for snow, traffic backups, etc.”

To view City of Redmond traffic cameras, visit www.redmond.gov/trafficcameras.

The city has also coordinated with King County Metro on bus routes affected by weather problems. You can sign up for King County Metro alerts at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/signup.

IN UNINCORPORATED KING COUNTY

You can sign up to receive alerts about adverse road conditions in unincorporated King County by visiting www.kingcounty.gov/roads.

To monitor traffic cameras in King County, visit www.kingcounty.gov/mycommute.

King County’s 24/7 Road Helpline is (206) 296-8100 or 1-800-527-6237 (1-800-KC-ROADS).

Information about winter driving in King County is also available here.

The non-emergency phone number for the King County Sheriff’s Office is (206) 296-3311. To report life-threatening emergencies, call 911.

GENERAL WINTER PREPAREDNESS

Sterbenz suggested, “Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel. Regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove. Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.”

Sterbenz also advised keeping supplies of sand and rock salt on hand, as well as a snow shovel and fire extinguisher. Learn how to shut off water valves, in case a pipe bursts.

Know ahead of time about elderly or disabled neighbors who might need help. Store flashlights, batteries and a radio.

Create and practice emergency plans with your family, Sterbenz added.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents unincorporated Redmond, said every member of your family should carry a backpack stocked with clothes, medicines and other necessities, because you never know where you might be when rough weather hits.

“Have small denominations of cash in case ATMs and credit card readers are down. Have out-of-state contact lists in case local phones are down,” Lambert continued. “Fill your propane tanks early in the season. Never let your car’s gas tank go less than a quarter full, in case you can’t get to a gas station or gas pumps are inoperable. Don’t let your prescription medications get too low. Have enough to get you by for several days if you can’t get to a pharmacy. Have supplies both at home and in your car.”

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