Winter Driving Preparedness
Tri-Citians are digging out from the first round of a intense winter storm. But more rounds are coming, say forecasters.
Tri-City schools already have announced plans to close Monday.
State, county and local road crews were trying to catch up after the weekend storm dumped several inches on the Tri-Cities and the region.
Many roadways and highways were blocked during the night, but many main roads reopened Sunday.
Interstate 82 between Kennewick and Oregon was open again Sunday afternoon. But Highway 240 remained closed from Richland to the Vernita Bridge Sunday afternoon.
With most other routes to the Hanford nuclear reservation also closed, even workers considered essential to safety and security were being told to check with their manager to see if they were needed or if workers already there could stay longer.
The Washington State Patrol reported that it was issuing tickets to drivers who ignored road closures.
Even Columbia Center mall was forced to close Sunday.
The Tri-Cities Airport was back open after closing at 3 p.m. Saturday, but Delta and Alaska flights to Seattle were still canceled on Sunday. Western Washington was also hit hard by the storm.
Around the Tri-Cities, arterial roads were plowed but side streets, parking lots and driveways remained a problem for many drivers.
A semi truck and trailer was stuck in the soft snow of the Costco parking Sunday morning and needed the help of a backhoe driver to dig the rig free.
Similar scenes were played out all over town as Tri-Citians tried to shovel their way out of their houses and streets.
Neighbors could be seen helping each other, pushing stuck vehicles or shoveling driveways.
“This weekend, amidst all the horrible road conditions and accidents, officers were warmed by the encouragement of all the goodness in our community,” said a Kennewick Police Department post on Facebook.
Officers helped stranded motorists, including installing tire chains, offering courtesy rides and digging out one vehicle after another.
“That being said we also saw the absolute GOODNESS and kindness that poured out from our community. ... Time and time again, people came to the aid of one another, without one expectation or even exchanging names,” said the post.
Members of the Oroville High School basketball team staying a Kennewick hotel even came to aid of a Kennewick officer when a patrol car was stuck in a snowdrift.
Franklin County and Benton County sheriff’s deputies posted similar reports of treacherous conditions on rural roads and citizens helping each other dig out.
How much snow?
The Tri-Cities received about six inches of snow from early Saturday to early Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
It received reports from its trained weather spotters and others of four to seven inches, plus drifting snow that left areas of much deeper snow. Deeper snow also was reported to the west of the Tri-Cities.
Wind speeds of 35 mph were reported at the airport in Pasco Saturday afternoon.
Three more storm systems are expected to roll through the Tri-Cities this week, with Thursday the best chance of a break between storms, according to the weather service.
Possibly three to six inches of additional accumulation is possible in the early week.
The next storm was forecast to hit the Tri-Cities Sunday night, with possibly an inch or two of snow falling. Chance of precipitation overnight was set at 80 percent.
Snow is likely Monday, with the chance of precipitation at 60 percent and a possible accumulation of one to three inches. Snow is expected to be heaviest in the morning.
The chance of snow increases to 70 percent Monday night, with another one to three inches possible as a new storm system arrives.
The chance of snow drops to 40 percent Tuesday and 20 percent Wednesday.
The next storm could arrive late in the workweek. A slight chance of snow is forecast for Thursday night and Friday, with snow most likely Friday night.
Road crews were making progress Sunday to clear more streets in the Tri-Cities.
Kennewick officials said that with nearly 700 lane miles of roadways in their city, crews were working to keep at least one lane open in each direction on arterials, collector streets and routes to and from hospitals needed in case of medical emergencies.
The city also has hired contractors to help with snow removal.
Kennewick crews made good headway on Sunday afternoon and were able to spend more time on residential streets. Areas with hills were being given top priority in residential neighborhoods.
The city warned that snow berms might be thrown up in front of driveways by snow plows.
“We ask for patience and assistance from our residents in clearing these berms, and to please pile shoveled snow in yards and not in the streets,” the city said in an announcement.
Pasco reported that its crews were getting to some of the feeder streets after the snow quit falling on Sunday.
However, primary and secondary routes remained the main focus, particularly as more snow is forecast.
Ben Franklin Transit says buses will run on regular routes on Monday, though some routes may be modified by road conditions.
Any changes will be posted on www.bft.org/WinterRiderAlerts and on Facebook and Twitter.
Dial-A-Ride service is canceled for Monday due to hazardous road conditions in many areas.
The reservation phone line for Dial-A-Ride and General Demand services will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Schools and campuses
- Kennewick School District is closed.
- Pasco School District and the administration building is closed.
- Richland School District is closed.
- Finley School District is closed.
- Columbia (Burbank) School District is closed.
- ESD 123 is closed.
- North Franklin School District is closed.
- Prosser School District has canceled classes, Tri-Tech and preschool, but offices will open.
- Othello School District is closed.
- Paterson School District is closed.
- Dayton School District is closed.
- Kiona-Benton City School District is closed.
- Kahlotus School District is closed.
- Columbia Basin College is closed. All classes, events, athletic practices, fitness center and library use are canceled.
- Washington State University is closed.
- Yakima Valley College is closed, including all campuses and learning centers.
Bethlehem Lutheran School is closed.
Eagles’ Nest is closed, activities are canceled.
Christ the King School is closed. Coming Home is also canceled.
Kingspoint Christian School is closed.
Liberty Christian School Tri-Cities is closed.
St. Joseph’s Catholic School and the Children’s Center will be closed.
Childcare and more
- Benton Franklin Head Start: All home visits are canceled and all centers are closed Monday.
- Childrens Developmental Center is closed.
- West Side Church in Richland preschool and other activities canceled.
- OCDC Headstart in North Central Oregon is closed.
- Oregon Child Development Coalition Headstart Centers closed in Hermiston, Irrigon, Boardman & Milton-Freewater.
- Meals on Wheels. All dining sites will be closed Monday. No home delivered meal services Monday.
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be closed. Only essential staff should report to work.
- Hanford Site day, night and swing shifts for nonessential workers have been canceled for Monday. Essential workers should call a manager before leaving for the site. They may enter Hanford at the Wye Barricade or the Yakima Barricade, which reopened Sunday afternoon.
- Pasco city offices will open at 10 a.m. Monday.
- Franklin County plans a two-hour delay to the start of business.
- Tri-Cities Food Bank, all branches, will be closed Monday.
- Several medical offices reported closures. Call to check before leaving for an appointment.
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties’ programs are canceled Monday.
- Kiona-Benton School District Board meeting on Monday is canceled.
- Benton-Franklin Health District offices in Kennewick and Pasco are closed.
- WorkSource Columbia Basin is closed.
- West Richland city offices will open two hours late.
- Richland city offices will open two hours late.
- The Richland Public Library is closed Monday.
- Mid-Columbia Libraries has closed all branches for Monday.
- Richland Code Enforcement Board meeting on Monday is canceled.
- Richland Hearing Examiner meeting on Monday is canceled.
- The Benton PUD office in Kennewick opened at 9 a.m. but the Prosser office remained closed.
- The Federal Building in Richland is closed, including the federal courthouse in the building.
- Hanford Vitrification Plant is closed both at the construction site and in town offices on Monday for non-essential personnel. Essential snow removal workers should report for night shift. The rotating A, B C and D job site crews are considered essential and should report for all shifts.