Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snow fighting: an insider’s look

by guest blogger Jamie Holter

I love snow storms in Puget Sound.
Food Supply in the EOC
I love being in the stinky Emergency Operations Center in Shoreline with a flat of Costco muffins, Pirate Booty and satsumas.
Charlies Angels radio in the EOC
I love watching four news channels over different parts of the snow storm. Our maintenance crews planning their attack on snowy and icy roads, overheard on the
world’s oldest Charlie’s Angels two-way radio.  I love taking calls from staff reporting for duty who say, “When do you need me, just let me know.” 

Monitoring television coverage

Our Emergency Operations Center had been active since Saturday.  A storm manager on with King County, the National Weather Service and doing interviews; a traffic engineer tracking cameras and collisions, another person who’s tracking collisions just involving buses and large trucks . Those vehicles that cause the biggest problems.  Everyone is at the top of their game, except for the moments when they are mugging for the camera.

The traffic management center, the nerve center for operations in Puget Sound, has more staff tracking traffic, putting up information on overhead signs, talking with crews in the field and dispatching teams to trees down, icy spots on the roads or helping State Patrol.

Staff Monitoring Twitter
Then, of course, the public information corner: the kings of @wsdot_traffic. Their clever and informative tweets retweeted to thousands…when they aren’t putting together videos and taking pictures of our workers. They tell me they love their job. I know they do.

Snow and ice is always scary and I’m proud that my job involves helping people stay on top of road and weather conditions even if we’re just stuck in a building and not on the roads like our Highway Heroes who do the heavy lifting. The folks I work with are top-notch, dedicated public servants. We can’t make Mother Nature change course, but we are here to help you get where you
Crews on roadway
need to go when she’s busy breaking Seattle snow records.