Bellingham prepares for snowy, frigid weather

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Temperatures remained in the 40s in Bellingham on Friday, but those temps are about to take a major dip over the weekend.

Crews with the city are gearing up for the upcoming weather system, which is expected to dump snow along with possible icy and windy conditions during the end of the weekend and into next week.

According to the city, they've got 2,000 tons of salt, a thousand tons of sand, and 20,000 gallons of salt brine at the ready to treat the roads. About 40 of the 70 workers will work specifically for clearing the snow from the streets. The city also has five large plow and sander trucks, along with two smaller ones.

City officials said they have been preparing for this since the summer, but they remained concerned for the expected frigid temperatures next week.

"That is our main concern," said Michael Olinger, superintendent of maintenance for Bellingham. " And that’s what we’ve been talking about in the last couple of days is getting word out to people to know that when it gets down to 8 degrees, you need to have a blanket in your car. You need to have some extra water. You need to be prepared for whatever may come. When it gets that cold, you can’t survive that long in those elements."

The city's plan for the roads depends on the weather. Even if it dries out for 30 minutes, the city can spray the salt brine on the streets to prevent icing, said Olinger. If it doesn't time out that way, they will then use salt and sand.

Meantime, many people in the area were getting ready for the upcoming storm. Some weren't particularly worried about the weather ahead.

"We just got the necessities. Chamomile Tea, a bottle of wine, a new dog toy," said Bellingham resident Beverly Ott.

When asked about whether she has a shovel or any other necessities she said she's already prepared.

"We got all of that stuff. We're ready," she said.

At the Fred Meyer store in Bellingham, shoppers said the lines were long because of people getting prepared.

"Crazy, crazy lines. Even in the self serve where you go through. It’s really big crowds. I mean, it is what it is," said customer Stew Egbert.

In terms of lessons from "Snowmageddon" last February, the city said they increased their stockpile of salt. According to Olinger, they have enough salt for a four-week snow event.