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Heavy rains, wind could snarl evening commute for Western Washington drivers

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Date:  Monday, November 19, 2012

Contact: Bronlea Mishler, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4788 (Seattle)
Olympic Region communications, 360-704-3270 (Tacoma)
Abbi Russell, WSDOT communications, 360-690-5367 (Vancouver)
Laura Kingman, WSDOT rail communications, 360-705-7904

OLYMPIA – Drivers from Puget Sound to Vancouver should plan ahead for gnarly commutes this week as a series of storms barrel across Western Washington.

In much of the region, drivers will face heavy rain and gusty winds tonight through Tuesday. Winds are expected to calm down Wednesday, but heavy rain showers will persist until Thursday afternoon.

Fallen trees, clogged drains and collisions have kept Washington State Department of Transportation crews busy today, Nov. 19, as they work to clear highways and keep drivers moving.

WSDOT urges commuters to do their part to keep traffic flowing by driving appropriately for the conditions:

• Check current conditions and closures before heading out
• Reduce speeds
• Increase following distance
• Allow extra time for trips
• Turn on headlights for better visibility

The weather has affected rail travel as well. Two mudslides have closed a track north of Seattle, impacting two Amtrak Cascades trains. BSNF Railway placed a 48-hour moratorium on train travel, and passengers will be bused through the area. Train traffic will resume normal operations after 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, if the tracks remain clear. For more information, call 800-USA-RAIL or visit www.AmtrakCascades.com.

Travelers headed over mountain passes this week should check current conditions and plan for winter driving. Crews closed the North Cascades Highway this morning because of heavy snow and dangerous avalanche conditions. The highway is expected to reopen after the storm passes and once crews determine it’s safe to reopen to traffic.

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 800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 800-833-6388.
• Sign up for email updates and social media tools such as Facebook.
• Follow traveler information on Twitter @wsdot, @wsdot_traffic, @wsdot_north, @wsdot_passes, @wsdot_tacoma, @wsdot_sw, @SnoqualmiePass.


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