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City of Arlington prepares for winter storms
ARLINGTON — City officials are hoping last year’s winter storm was an anomaly.
But just in case, they’re preparing for the worst.
“Last year, given the circumstances that we had, we put everything into play as soon as we could,” city of Arlington spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said. “We’re going to continue to do that and evaluate our performance every year. We’re hoping the weather reports remain true and that snow around here is hopefully a rare occurrence this year.”
Banfield said, however, that city crews have been busy stockpiling equipment throughout the year to prepare for any repeat storms that could affect Arlington this winter.
Public Works Director Jim Kelly reported after last year’s winter storm that city employees spent about 1,000 hours shoveling snow. More than a foot of snow fell in some outlying areas in Arlington, causing schools and businesses to close and residents to stay home.
The city’s two snowplows were in high demand during the nearly three week storm that hit western Washington in December 2008 and lasted into early 2009 in many areas.
“The snow was falling faster than we could ever keep up with,” Banfield said. “No matter how many people and pieces of equipment, we just couldn’t keep up.”
City crews have since switched from an all-sand mix to a new solution of pre-mixed sand and de-icer — called a “hot mix” — to help clear city roadways, Banfield said.
The mix is used by Washington State Department of Transportation crews, she said.
Banfield said that a number of frustrated residents voiced complaints to city officials during the storm, stating that they were unable to leave their homes because roads had not been cleared.
To help residents, the city has also purchased a third snow plow to help keep arterial roads clear of snow.
“It’s a little bit smaller (than the other two plows) so we can get into more areas such as cul-de-sacs,” Banfield said.
Although city crews may be better-prepared for another large snowfall, Banfield said residents should also have emergency supplies and snow removal equipment on hand.
“We can’t be stopping at everybody’s driveway to clear them, even though we’d love to,” Banfield said. “There’s a difference between public and private property.”
Public Works officials recommend residents keep storm water inlets near their homes free of debris. Community members can also help the city by raking leaves on their property and either placing them in a waste container or composting them.
For more information about the city, visit www.arlingtonwa.gov. The city’s emergency hotline is 360-403-3499.
The Arlington School District is also preparing for winter weather.
District administrators begin evaluating road conditions in Arlington as early as 3:30 a.m., and decisions to close or delay school is usually made by 5:30 a.m.
Information on school closures can be found at the district Web site, www.asd.wednet.edu, or by visiting www.schoolreport.org.