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Crews fight snow in the passes and prep for next round of wind in Puget Sound

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Crews fight snow in the passes and prep for next round of wind in Puget Sound

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December 17, 2012

SEATTLE – With gusty winds forecast for Puget Sound and heavy snow forecast for the passes, Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance and bridge crews spent Sunday fighting snow in the passes and tracking the next storm system as it moves into the state.

The forecast calls for up to three feet of snow on Snoqualmie and Stevens passes and very high winds on the Washington Coast, across Whidbey Island, Skagit County as well as gusty winds in Puget Sound.

“While every state highway is important, in Puget Sound this particular wind storm has us paying special attention to the State Route 520 floating bridge because of its vulnerability,” said Dave McCormick, assistant regional administrator for maintenance and operations.

State Route 520 bridge

The forecast for Lake Washington calls for sustained winds picking up Sunday afternoon and turning gusty between 9 p.m. and midnight. Sustained winds between 2 to 6 a.m. will be 25-35 miles per hour with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. Bridge crews are dispatched to SR 520 when sustained winds reach 40 miles per hour for one minute which will likely happen in this storm.

“We don’t typically close the bridge to drivers unless sustained winds reach 50 miles per hour for 15 minutes or more which the forecast doesn’t show at this time,” said Archie Allen, WSDOT bridge superintendent. As a precaution, WSDOT will not allow any drawspan openings for boats openings between 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 and 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17.

The Washington State Patrol or WSDOT maintenance crews may close the bridge if waves are too high or water on the bridge presents a driving hazard. Contractor crews working on the floating bridge have secured all construction materials.

Fall storm reminder

This is the first big fall storm of the season. Drivers could see downed trees, downed power lines, signal outages and standing water. Drivers are reminded to stay away from downed power lines, treat dark intersections as four-way stops and never drive through standing water. Temperatures may drop in the coming days. Drivers should watch for ice or frost on the roads. Other tips can be found on the WSDOT winter weather page.

Before heading out, check the WSDOT web site for traffic alerts and closures. On the road, passengers can call 511 for information or check the WSDOT twitter feed for the greater Seattle/Bellevue area or the Tacoma area.

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