With the first snowfall of the season forecast for Cougar Mountain and the Lakemont area this week, Bellevue has joined a state and national campaign --"Ice and Snow, Take it Slow" -- to raise awareness about winter driving.
Winter conditions call for different driving tactics, including slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking. Residents are encouraged to give themselves extra time to reach their destinations safely.
The "Take it Slow" the campaign is particularly relevant for Bellevue, which has a 1,200-foot elevation range from Lake Washington to Cougar Mountain, the most of any city in the region. In January, dozens of drivers had to abandon their cars on a long, steep stretch of Lakemont Boulevard because of ice.
The city Utilities Department prepared for accumulations of 1 to 2 inches of snow expected Thursday and Saturday at Cougar Mountain and Lakemont.
The Take it Slow message includes the following common-sense winter travel tips:
- Check conditions: When you see an extreme forecast, plan ahead. Talk to your employer, local school or day-care center. How will they provide you information? Check road reports and roadway temperatures on the state Department of Transportation website.
- Prepare: Before leaving home, prepare your vehicle and give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Also, stock up on household items. The 3 Days 3 Ways website offers more information.
- Driving tips: The faster you're going, the longer it will take to stop. Accelerate gradually on snow or ice to avoid slipping. Never slam the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don't, gently pump the pedal. Either way, give yourself plenty of room to stop.
- Black ice: Roads that seem dry or just wet may actually be slippery with ice. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady areas -- all are likely spots for black ice.
- Snowplows: Give snowplows room to work. The plows are wide and can cross the centerline or shoulder. Don’t tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution and beware of the snow cloud.
Bellevue's Utilities Department prepares early for snow season by getting equipment ready, stockpiling supplies and training staff for emergency responses.
Bellevue owns 15 trucks that can be configured as snowplows or sanders, nine one-ton, four-wheel-drive trucks and six dump trucks. During a major snow storm, sets of up to 20 employees will work 12-hour shifts, around the clock.
Under certain conditions prior to an expected ice or snow storm -- when the forecast calls for dry conditions and temperatures between 12 and 21 degrees -- workers put down an anti-icer called calcium magnesium acetate, a liquid that prevents ice from forming. Environmentally friendly, it won't harm fish habitat if it washes into streams.
Snow response and snow route maps are available on the Bellevue website; the state DOT winter tips web page has additional information on winter travel.
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