The Thurston County Board of Commissioners hear a presentation from Thurston County Public Works on 2021 winter preparations.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are once again predicting colder temperatures and increased chances for rain, sleet and snow this winter.
This is the second year where more precipitation and colder-than-average temperatures have been in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest. In anticipation of the cold and wet weather, Thurston County Public Works staff are spending this month sharpening winter operation plans.
"Our crews are preparing for 24-hour operations in the event of a severe storm," said Road Operations Manager Lucy Mills.
A senior road operations staff member showing a new employee how to put chains on large equipment needed during winter storm operations.
Last year, the emergence of COVID-19 meant crews had to adapt, creating protocols for cleaning equipment and incorporating the use of personal protective gear in planning efforts. Now, supply chain challenges due to the pandemic are also impacting winter preparations.
"We may have to modify some of our pre-treatment options for snow and ice. However, we have plenty of salt and sand to respond," added Mills.
Getting ready for winter storm season means preparing for all kinds of severe weather. Each year, road crews train on seasonal equipment and safe tree removal. They also visit frequent flood sites and drive snow routes, which were redrawn in 2019 to improve operations.
At the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center (WARC), Facility Operations Manager Gerald Tousley is also making sure his staff are prepared.
"The WARC is an essential facility. We do everything possible to stay open so that commercial carriers who provide garbage service to residents have a place to deliver to," said Tousley.
Parks and Trails staff are in the process of preparing for severe weather, including winterizing public facilities such as restrooms, park rentals and other structures owned by the county.
"Parks staff are also proactively working to ensure that all culverts, drains, and other stormwater structures and ditches throughout the Parks and Trails system remain clear throughout the fall and winter," said Parks and Trails Manager Ed Marson.
Floodwaters over a road and driveway in 2017 on Michigan Hill in Southwest Thurston County.
The Water Resources division of Public Works operates 3 water and 4 wastewater systems, providing drinking water to more than 800 rate payers in Tamoshan, Boston Harbor and Grand Mound. As part of winter preparedness, utilities crews outfit vehicles with traction devices, test emergency equipment, and operate generators weekly to prepare for power outages.
In the event of severe weather, community members can find information about county road closures and impacts to other Thurston County Public Works facilities by visiting the department's Winter & Storm Response web page at: