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Decision time: Stock up, slow down for weekend storm

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Date:  Friday, January 13, 2012

Contact: Alice Fiman, WSDOT Communications 360-705-7080 (Olympia)

For traffic and travel information, call 511. Out-of-state callers can dial 1-800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388.

OLYMPIA – Road crews statewide are gearing up for what could be the biggest snowstorm of winter 2011-2012, with snow expected from the Hood Canal north to Bellingham, south to Vancouver and east to Spokane.

For travelers or non-travelers, that means it’s decision time. Staying in? Have a full tank of gas, just in case. Going out? Pack tire chains and a winter car kit and drive for conditions. Those traveling to ski resorts for the long weekend should expect additional delays, with backups common when the snow hits.

Weather forecasts show a storm system moving in from the coast Saturday, with snow and icy conditions expected through the weekend. Snow showers are expected to be especially heavy in the mountains. By Monday, Eastern Washington could have its turn, with wind and blowing snow possible in the Palouse area.

“Maintenance crews are keeping a close eye on the changing weather and have plows and sanders stocked and ready,” said Chris Christopher, director of Maintenance Operations for Washington State Department of Transportation. “But we really need drivers’ help to plan their route. If you travel, be ready for snow and ice even if the sun’s out in your neighborhood. The conditions could change rapidly and the conditions you see out your window could be dramatically different 10 miles down the road.”

Travelers can prevent additional delays by driving for conditions. Collisions caused by drivers who are going to fast unprepared for winter weather cause delays for everyone.

Drivers can prepare for snow and ice by checking travel and roadway conditions on the WSDOT website and packing their winter weather supplies, including tire chains.

Know before you go

  • WSDOT offers several ways to get up-to-date weather, traffic and construction information before hitting the road.
  • Carry chains and know the traction and chain requirements.
  • Call 511. WSDOT’s driver information phone line provides real-time traffic, incident and closure information. Out-of-state callers can dial 1-800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388.
  • Sign up for email updates and social media tools such as Facebook.
  • Follow us on Twitter @wsdot, @wsdot_traffic, @wsdot_passes, @wsdot_tacoma, @SnoqualmiePass.

On the road

  • Overhead and roadside electronic signs provide emergency and incident alerts and point-to-point travel times in some Seattle-area locations during rush hours. Use roadside travel time signs to help judge the time to reach your destination.
  • Highway advisory radios allow drivers to hear updates when the flashing lights along the highway are activated. Program 530 AM and 1610 AM on your radio before you leave and tune in when signs are flashing.
  • Ask a passenger to use one of the many Mobile Applications available.


WSDOT keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state's transportation systems. To learn more about what we're doing, go to for pictures, videos, news and blogs. Real time traffic information is available at or by dialing 511.

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