A 37-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, slid down a street and over an embankment, his car rolling down a hill before coming to a stop against a house after the Eastside was blanketed with snow on Monday, Jan. 13. Photo courtesy of Bellevue Police Department

A 37-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, slid down a street and over an embankment, his car rolling down a hill before coming to a stop against a house after the Eastside was blanketed with snow on Monday, Jan. 13. Photo courtesy of Bellevue Police Department

Snow makes for dangerous conditions; few emergencies reported

Bellevue saw 1 to 3 inches on Monday morning.

  • Monday, January 13, 2020 12:54pm
  • News

As residents awoke bleary eyed and still reeling from the Seahawks elimination the day before, they found a new situation for dismay as a blanket of snow had fallen throughout the Eastside.

While snowfall was localized — with more falling in some places than others — Bellevue communities saw between 1 and 3 inches fall.

Throughout the Eastside, schools were closed due to the snowy conditions. The Bellevue School District closed all of its schools and canceled all school activities, all early and extended learning programs and all community events at school facilities.

Though the Bellevue Police Department said it had had a slow morning, it did report two snow-related accidents, one of them major.

At about 8:20 a.m., a 37-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, slid down a street and over an embankment, Bellevue PD communications officer Meeghan Black said. The vehicle rolled a few times before coming to a stop against a house at the bottom of a hill. The driver sustained minor injuries. The home was undamaged, Black noted.

A two-car noninjury collision also was reported.

Other than responding to the scene of accidents, Black said it was “business as usual” for the Bellevue PD.

“Our standard protocol is to keep people safe and help out when needed,” Black said. “Again, the call load has been very light this morning. Keep your fingers crossed.”

Snow had been in the forecast for more than a week. At first predicted it was predicted to settle into the area on Saturday but finally arrived late Sunday and in the early morning on Monday. Prevention might have been the saving grace, Black noted.

“I think a lot of credit goes to the transportation and utilities departments who did a great job anticipating and prepping for the weather,” Black said.

Brad Harwood, chief communications officer for the city manager’s office, said the city was prepared.

“Bellevue road crews have been on standby since Friday and have been working hard to make sure the city’s roadways are clear and safe,” Harwood said.

Crews had cleared snow along priority routes by 7 a.m. and started working on secondary routes. Crews were planning to work 12-hour shifts through Wednesday to stay ahead of the weather. The city has 15 vehicles equipped with snowplows.

No major utility issues were reported in Bellevue, Harwood said.

“During an emergency weather event, our response is very much a coordinated effort between Transportation and Utilities,” he said. “The big initial push is clearing roads of snow and road-blocking debris. Once the snow starts to melt, we switch focus to clearing storm drains.”

Harwood noted that Republic Services had suspended trash service for the day and would re-evaluate the situation as conditions changed.

City Hall was open for business during normal hours on Monday. Other city facilities (including Crossroads Community Center, Aquatics Center, Kelsey Creek, Lewis Creek, Lake Hills Ranger Station) were closed.

In February 2019, the region was hit with multiple snow storms for weeks that brought residents to a halt. Harwood the two storms are not comparable for Bellevue.

“Fortunately, this snow system is shaping up to be very mild compared to last year. The 2019 event was extreme and not typical – an event we see on average about once every 10 years (10 percent of winters),” Harwood said. “Bellevue was able to respond to this extreme event with a massive staff effort that was effective in maintaining safety and mobility for our residents and businesses.”

Some residential areas south of Interstate 90 in higher elevations benefited from recent equipment upgrades, Harwood noted.

“The Transportation Department has procured some new plow blades with steel bits (to supplement our stock of softer infrastructure-protecting rubber bits) to use on these residential streets where the risk to infrastructure is low,” he said.

Though residents had seemingly made it through the frigid precipitation relatively unscathed, Black cautioned that the forecast warns of the potential for more white stuff in the next couple of days. The National Weather Service website (www.weather.gov) shows at least a chance of snow through Friday.

“Still, cold weather will remain, so icy conditions will be present tonight and into tomorrow,” Black said on Monday morning. “There’s another round of snow possible late Wednesday and we we’ll be ready.”

Some Eastside cities got way more snow than others.

According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Gary Schneider Snoqualmie saw 9 to 10 inches, North Bend received 8 inches, Redmond 3 to 5 inches, Bothell 4 to 7 inches, Issaquah 2 to 3 inches, Kenmore 1 to 3 inches, Kirkland 1 to 3 inches, and Mercer Island saw a trace to an inch.

Schneider said there wasn’t as much snow reported south of Interstate 90 and south Seattle got very little. He also said there was a pretty sharp line between Bothell and Kenmore, with up to 7 inches in Bothell further north into south Snohomish County but dropping off pretty quickly to only about 2 or 3 inches reported in the Kenmore area.

Snoqualmie pass received about a foot of snow in the last 24 hours, adding to the couple of feet that has been accumulating there over the last few days. Snow on the pass has been building over recent weeks. More information about pass conditions can be found on the state department of transportation (WSDOT) website online at https://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/snoqualmie/.

Schneider confirmed there was another chance of accumulating snowfall on Wednesday or Thursday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from the city manager’s office.

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