Icy roads in Snohomish County still need to be plowed

Ice and snow-packed roads made it a treacherous commute for some drivers in unincorporated Snohomish County.

Several neighborhoods on back roads have yet to see snowplows clear a path, causing road conditions to become very slippery. Even getting to work on the frozen grounds presented a challenge for some.

"A lot of our employees are younger as well and inexperienced drivers. So, they’re nervous about driving in the snow, and it’s difficult to get staffing in place and to get businesses open on time," said Paul Armour, a Subway franchisee in Snohomish.

"Neighborhood streets are kind of a mess," said Michele Versdahl, who lives in a neighborhood with icy roads. "There’s been so much snow and layers of things kind of piling up and those neighborhood streets really don’t get visited."

Neighborhoods are last on the list for plowing by Snohomish County Public Works. Road maintenance director Jim Parker said the first priority is clearing primary roads for first responders, emergency vehicles and public transit.

Department leaders said, "The prioritization of snow and ice routes are based on traffic volume, transit and school bus routes, terrain, and knowledge of problem areas. The prioritization does not change based on public calls – even multiple calls – requesting service."

Public Works officials said crews have been pushing snow since Saturday evening from the last snowfall.

"We may almost be getting to your road and then if it snows, we have to go back to the primary routes and that puts us behind again. So, it takes us longer to get the side roads," explained Parker.

Now, added to those side roads is the snow and ice from Tuesday’s storm. Parker said they have 38 trucks out clearing paths.

"Get as much snow off the road as we can. Kind of break up the ice with some sand and salt," said Parker.

The road maintenance director said crews are rotating 12-hour shifts to get as much done as possible. However, with warmer temperatures and rain in the forecast for the weekend, Parker said crews might have to switch from snow removal to flood response.

"We’re already watching the river levels, and we get a lot of rain in addition to a fast snowmelt. And that can give us a whole new set of issues to deal with," said Parker.

The public works department said crews are trying to work as quickly and as safely as possible. Drivers who see a snow plow on the road are advised to give them room to work, staying about 200 feet away.

RELATED: Everett Gospel Mission helps provide dozens of warm beds during winter storm

Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 13 Seattle app. Download for Apple iOS or Android. And sign up for BREAKING NEWS emails delivered straight to your inbox.

Snohomish County Public Works provided the following tips to help people stay informed during winter weather events:

  • Vehicles parked along all major arterials and emergency routes must be moved off the street. Those vehicles left in the travel lane of a roadway and blocking traffic may be towed at the owner’s expense. It is recommended for vehicles to be moved when snow is in the forecast. Parking vehicles in the driveway and off the road helps the snowplows finish routes more quickly and efficiently.
  • Residents clearing driveways and snow berms are advised to pile the snow to the left side as you face the house, especially closer to the road. This prevents the snowplow blade from pushing the material back into the driveway. Throwing snow onto the road creates obstructions in the roadway and can be hazardous.
  • Keep drainage inlets near your home clear of leaves and debris during the winter months to help reduce the chance of flooding.
  • Try to keep garbage bins and other obstacles out of the street when the roads are icy or covered with snow.
  • Obey road closed signs.
  • Be sure to have vehicles mechanically prepared for cold weather. Have tire chains or traction tires readily available.
  • Keep food, water and medical supplies in your home that will last at least one week. Pay attention to weather reports and plan ahead for even longer periods of time.
  • Follow the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management and Public Works department on Twitter and like Snohomish County on Facebook for the most up-to-date information during an event.