Prep work helped keep ice at bay on Whatcom County roads

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 3, 2013 

Whatcom County Public Works crews braced for nasty weather Monday night, Dec. 2, and although it was cold and windy, it wasn't nearly as bad as they expected.

The weather service used by the county had called for an inch of snow countywide that would turn to ice overnight, so six sanders were out taking care of hills and intersections, said Rob Ney, assistant superintendent of maintenance and operations.

"We prepared for a much more catastrophic night last night that didn't ever materialize," Ney said. "Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry, and that's the approach we took."

The prep work paid off: Public works had very few calls about icy roads Tuesday morning. Ney said those preparations should keep the county in good stead through the week, with daytime temperatures not expected to rise above freezing and with overnight lows in the low 20s.

"We're stocked and ready for anything they can throw at us," Ney said.

In Bellingham, public works crews responded Tuesday morning to icy spots at Lakeway Drive and Woburn Street and at West Bakerview Road near Bellis Fair mall, said maintenance superintendent Mike Olinger. In both places water leaked onto the road from planters or the sidewalk and then froze.

The wind didn't cause too many issues in the county or in Bellingham. Gusts of up to 46 mph were recorded at Bellingham International Airport Monday night, with steady winds of more than 20 mph lasting into Tuesday morning. A few scattered power outages were reported.

The wind actually was helpful in drying out the roads, and sunny skies during the day do the same, Ney said.

That doesn't mean drivers shouldn't keep an eye out for ice, especially on hills and in areas that are shady all day.

"The biggest thing is, just slow down a little bit and watch for those icy spots," Olinger said.

Reach ZOE FRALEY at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or call 756-2803.

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