Vancouver winter storm update: Rains, garbage/recycling and more

VANCOUVER — Rains have returned, and throughout Vancouver, Public Works street crews have been out plowing slush and clearing streets where nature and deicer are assisting in breaking up compacted snow and ice. Regular winter rains were reported in areas west of Interstate 205, while areas east had been hit by freezing rain.

Drivers are being urged to be extremely cautious, especially on those residential and side streets where rain is pooling on top of caked masses of snow and ice. Traffic spray from slush can also cause problems, and drivers are asked to watch out for other vehicles and pedestrians.

Rains have returned to the Vancouver area, and Public Works crews are out plowing slush and clearing streets where nature and deicer are assisting in breaking up compacted snow and ice.
Area roads were already developing trouble spots around Clark County Thursday, such as this spot along SR-503 north of SR-500. Photo by Mike Schultz

Public Works Stormwater crews have spent the day checking known problem spots along major arterial streets throughout the city and digging out those drainage catch basins as much as possible in advance of the thaw. Of concern are the ice dams that have formed around drains and could prevent the flow of water.

For residents concerned about flooding on private property, Public Works has set up two self-serve sandbag sites. Sand and empty bags are provided, but residents should bring their own shovels to fill bags and be prepared to transport them. Locations are:

  • In front of fence, near the sign at the former Golden Skate site, 4915 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
  • Near the driveway access at Vancouver Public Works’ East Operations site, 912 NE 192nd Ave.

Wednesday Garbage & Recycling for Wednesday Jan. 18: If rains help scour out streets and it’s safe for its big trucks to maneuver in neighborhoods, Waste Connections will try to reach as many regular Wednesday garbage and recycling customers as possible. Because service was canceled Wed., Jan. 11, those customers are allowed to set out twice their service amount at no extra charge, and trucks are expected to fill up twice as fast. Waste Connections is rallying outside resources to help handle the anticipated larger-the-normal residential loads.

Waste Connections also plans to hit its commercial stops, with another commercial round possible on Saturday. However, if weather conditions take a turn for the worse and neighborhoods remain slick and unsafe for trucks to get through, Wednesday garbage, recycling and yard debris service will be canceled and pickups rescheduled. Please check Waste Connections online at www.wcnorthwest.com for schedule and service details.

Trees, Water Pipes and Contacts: Other problems typically associated with the type of weather conditions Vancouver is experiencing include downed trees and frozen water pipes. Frozen pipes are most apt to burst or make themselves known during the thaw following a deep freeze. Water pipes on private property are the responsibility of the property owner, but Operations crews can assist with turning off water at the meter. To report trees in streets or for assistance with frozen water lines, please call Vancouver Public Works Operations at (360) 487-8177 and follow the prompts for after-hours service. For downed power lines, call Clark Public Utilities at (360) 992-8000. In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

More Street Information: In preparation for the storm, City crews began pre-treating streets throughout Vancouver with de-icer before snow and ice arrived. As part of the severe weather strategy, the community is split into zones, and crews are assigned to each zone’s priority routes to focus efforts and resources. During this winter snow and ice storm, all priority routes throughout the City have been plowed and major intersections, hills, overpasses and trouble spots deiced. In addition to the constant deep freeze, snow amounts, wind, sun and traffic have varied across Vancouver, affecting conditions on the street. In some areas, vehicles have been driving on pavement. In others, streets have been slick and covered with ice and snow.

In the past few days, much of what remains on some streets, particularly on the west side, has become too compacted, solidified and frozen to plow. Snow plow blades do not dig into the surface of the street, but ride a couple inches off the surface. With temperatures stuck below freezing and ice/snow mass so solid and thick, deicer has not been able to react and other equipment has not been able to cut through it. Rising temperatures are expected to provide the needed breakthrough, though some forecasters have warned that the full thaw could be slow.

Visit www.cityofvancouver.us/severeweather for more information, including updates, priority street map and severe weather tips.

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About The Author

Joanna Nicole Yorke is a 2010 graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in political science. Yorke is a Clark County native, growing up on her family's 12-acre farm in La Center where her family still resides today. She was previously a reporter at The Reflector Newspaper, covering the city of Battle Ground, the Battle Ground School District and a variety of other areas and topics.

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