Thursday, November 19, 2015

Don’t be fooled by Mother Nature – make sure you’re prepared for winter weather even in a “mild” year

By Barbara LaBoe

We may be looking at another relatively mild winter, but that doesn’t mean our roads will be snow- and ice- free.

Mother Nature is unpredictable. (A case in point? The high winds, rain and snow of the past few days.) Even so-called El Nino winters can have sudden, severe storms, turning a trip across a pass – or even to the mall -- into a winter endurance event. The key to safe travel is to be prepared and keep yourself informed about conditions so you can make safe choices.

First, make sure you and your vehicle are ready. Bring along winter jackets, boots and blankets just in case. Have some extra water and snacks in case you end up waiting for a road to be cleared. And be sure you have basic winter emergency tools already packed in your vehicle. Not sure what to pack? Check out these handy shopping and packing guides.

Make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for snow and ice before it arrives.
Next, be aware of current weather conditions and the forecasts before you hit the road. We have several tools to help you plan your trips so you “know before you go” and can also adjust plans as needed:
  • Check our best times to travel tips for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Visit our “Keeping you informed” website as well as our mobile app and online tools for traffic information and ferry schedules.
  • Follow our social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, including several region or pass specific accounts.
  • Sign up for email alerts about traffic, road conditions and other information. 
  • Pre-program your vehicle radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts.
  • Check current pass reports for chain and traction requirements on our website or by calling 5-1-1.
  • Review our winter driving brochure.
  • Leave extra time for holiday and winter travel, drive safe and keep warm.
Also make sure you’re prepared for weather or crash delays. We try to schedule snow removal and avalanche work for the least busy time, but sometimes weather conditions call for immediate response. Keep your gas tank full and your vehicle in good working order.

We work with the Washington State Patrol to keep roads clear and safe – but
we need drivers’ help as well, including being prepared for winter weather.
Lastly, make sure to take it slow, especially in icy conditions. Often pass and road closures aren’t due to snow removal, but rather a vehicle that loses control and ends up causing backups for everyone. Give yourself extra travel time anytime inclement weather is forecast.

We work hard to keep roads clear, but we need everyone’s help to ensure a safe winter season.