WSDOT gears up ahead of wintry weather blast

Drivers are being warned to stay home if possible with inches of snow in the forecast

VANCOUVER — Parking lots were full, and many shelves were empty as shoppers descended on area grocery and hardware stores in droves Friday ahead of an expected blast (or two, or three) of Winter. Carts were loaded with food, water, shovels, and anything else people thought they might need as Old Man Winter took aim at the Pacific Northwest.

WSDOT snow plows stand ready to respond as snow approaches Clark County. Photo by Mike Schultz
WSDOT snow plows stand ready to respond as snow approaches Clark County. Photo by Mike Schultz

With calls of up to four inches of snow through Saturday morning, crews with Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are preparing for a very long few days.

“Our drivers end up getting tired,” says Mark Brace, maintenance lead for WSDOT in Southwest Washington, “because we’re working around the clock.”

Brace says crews generally work about 12 hour shifts when weather like this hits.

Pickings were slim in the lunch meat aisle at WalMart in Woodland, with people stocking up ahead of a Winter storm. Photo by Mike Schultz
Pickings were slim in the lunch meat aisle at WalMart in Woodland, with people stocking up ahead of a Winter storm. Photo by Mike Schultz

“It gets to wear on you if it goes on too long,” Brace adds, “it makes long days for the guys.”

Brace says they have around 30,000 gallons of deicing fluid on hand, and around 600 tons of salt between Vancouver and Washougal.

“If we need to get more in, we’re going to get more in,” he says. “It makes it a little tougher when you’re in a major storm throughout the whole state here.”

Long lines greeted shoppers at Winco in Vancouver as people hurried to stock up ahead of a Winter storm. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Long lines greeted shoppers at Winco in Vancouver as people hurried to stock up ahead of a Winter storm. Photo by Jacob Granneman

A major message from Brace and other crews that will be responding as snow piles up — give them plenty of room to operate.

“Stay behind us, and stay back,” says Brace. “Don’t try and pass our trucks out there. They’re going to lose control in front of us, our truck’s gotta stop severely quick and they can’t. These large trucks are hard to stop with these big plows on them.”

The advice of first responders is basically to stay home unless you absolutely have to be out in the weather. And, if you must go, be sure to have a full tank of gas, traction devices, food, water, and something to keep you warm in case you do become stranded.

Mike Brace, WSDOT SW Region maintenance lead, is shown here. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mike Brace, WSDOT SW Region maintenance lead, is shown here. Photo by Mike Schultz

Luckily, this time around, the snow is forecast for a weekend, which means there should be fewer people on the freeways. Brace says Monday’s snow created all kinds of problems, especially on I-205, because it’s hard for trucks to get through traffic to clear the roads.

Unlike their counterparts in Oregon, WSDOT has used salt for a number of years. While it is infused with a chemical to help inhibit the rust-causing effects of salt on vehicles, it is recommended that you run your car through a wash after snowfall like this, especially the undercarriage.

A deicing truck at WSDOT’s Vancouver yard is shown here. Photo by Mike Schultz
A deicing truck at WSDOT’s Vancouver yard is shown here. Photo by Mike Schultz

You can see a continuously updated list of closures and delays here.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook to share your snow pictures, and anything you think is newsworthy.
Tons of road salt is on hand to be used by WSDOT crews as a Winter storm bears down on Clark County. Photo by Mike Schultz

WSDOT’s Mike Brace shows off road salt used to help clear snow covered roads on Clark County highways. Photo by Mike Schultz
WSDOT’s Mike Brace shows off road salt used to help clear snow covered roads on Clark County highways. Photo by Mike Schultz

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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