Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict colder temperatures and increased chances for rain, sleet, and snow this winter.
This is the third year in a row La Nina conditions have predicted for the region, bringing cooler and wetter weather. In anticipation of the cold and wet weather, Thurston County Public Works staff spent time this week training and checking equipment.
"Our crews have their winter operations and chainsaw training complete and are ready for the season," said Mike Lowman, Road Operations Manager.
Members of the Road Operations, Traffic, and Parks and Trails teams learning how to attach plows to county vehicles.
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 visit frequent flood sites and drive snow routes to familiarize themselves with the roads they'll be clearing during weather events.
"A new brine mixer and sand shed both installed in 2021 will help improve our response to weather events and prevent ice from bonding to road surfaces," said Lowman.
At the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center (WARC), Gerald Tousley, the Facility Operations Manager, is preparing for colder and wetter weather.
"Keeping our gates open is essential to public health and safety. We are preparing by getting the sander, plows and generators inspected and ready for residents to come tip their trash, as well as the commercial garbage haulers," said Tousley.
Parks and trails facilities owned by the county remain open for public use during the winter season, except for the restroom near the swim area at Kenneydell Park. Thurston County Parks and Trails staff are clearing stormwater drainage structures such as catch basins and culverts. This work ensures our public spaces have minimal flooding during heavy rains.
"We keep a close eye on the stormwater structures, so they don't get blocked with leaves and debris throughout the fall and winter," said Ed Marson, Parks and Trails Manager.
A new sand shed constructed in 2021 keeps sand for roads dry and loose, ready to use during freezing temperatures.
Utilities crews outfit vehicles with traction devices, test emergency equipment, and operate generators weekly to prepare for power outages. This preparation means less interruptions in service for the 800 rate payers served by our three water and four wastewater systems.
You can also help us prepare for winter. Check your yard and road for fallen leaves; you can compost or haul them to a transfer station. Leaves block stormwater from draining and can cause flooding. Thurston County is hosting an online training to show you how to maintain your stormwater systems. You can visit the online training website for more information.
During weather events, limit travel to necessary trips and take your garbage and recycling carts off the road. This will help plows and de-icing trucks clear as much as possible from your roadway as they work.
Community members can find information about county road closures and impacts to other Thurston County Public Works facilities during inclement weather by visiting the department's Winter & Storm Response web page.