Snow is on the way. Are you ready?

Although forecast levels vary, it is safe to assume that we are in for more wintry weather. Current predictions call for precipitation to begin Friday evening and continue into Saturday. This is sure to tax U.P.’s supply of salt, sand and anti-icing materials.

Since Monday’s snow event, U.P. Public Works staff have been working all week to apply more than 18,000 gallons of anti-icing liquid and 30 cubic yards of sand mixed with salt to the city’s arterial and secondary arterial streets. Public Works staff are working around the clock, but residents need to know that with this upcoming storm, resources and manpower will be severely taxed.

“We only have 35 yards of sand remaining in our storage bunker and although we have arranged for a delivery of an additional 60 yards, we are having trouble finding salt to mix with it,” said Gary Cooper, the City’s director of Public Works. “In addition, Pierce County is unable to deliver anti-icing liquid to replenish our tank, so our staff has been driving to its facility in Fredrickson, re-filling our totes and then pumping the fluid into our storage tank. Because we can only haul 1,500 gallons per trip, we are making multiple trips daily.” 

The City bases its annual snow treatment supplies based on historical usage levels. “This unusual weather pattern has us scrambling,” Cooper said. “Right now, we plan to apply liquid anti-icing agent and sand on our arterial and secondary arterial streets but at this time, we do not have the resources to go into neighborhood streets.”

As a result, residents are urged to be prepared for this weekend’s weather event by making sure they have all necessary supplies on hand, including medications, to last for a few days if they are unable to leave their neighborhoods. Power outages are also a concern, especially because wind and wet snow can lead to downed tree limbs.

“We urge residents to support and look out for each other once the snow arrives, especially the elderly and disabled,” said City Manager Steve Sugg. “In a perfect world, we would have all the necessary snow plows, anti-icing trucks and supplies to deal with these unusual weather patterns. But given that it costs $100,000 to purchase and operate a plow or anti-icing truck, it would not be a wise use of taxpayer money, especially since we typically only use these resources three to four days a year, and that back-to-back events like this occur every six or seven years.”

Residents are encouraged to stay off the streets so that plows and anti-ice trucks can operate without hindrance. In cases of true emergencies, call 911 and allow public safety personnel to respond.

For the latest updates on closings, cancellations and other-weather related news, visit the City’s website or check its Facebook and Twitter accounts. For information on power outages, view the Tacoma Power Outage Map on the TPU website.