If snow comes, driving on residential streets and hills could be dicey in Seattle

SEATTLE -- If a snowstorm occurs on Thursday, get ready for a slippery mess, especially on residential streets.

Residential streets in Seattle are not treated before or after a snow event, so it could be dicey getting out of your neighborhood.

As SDOT crews drove around on Tuesday, sensors on their trucks told them where the slick spots were.

“We can identify that there is a potential for black ice and we can pre-treat,” SDOT’s Rodney Maxie said.

A constant stream of snow plows geared up with salt to treat bridges, ramps and the main arteries. Crews will be out working the roads from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. to keep the roads as safe as possible.

If it snows on Thursday, as some forecasts suggest, SDOT will clear roads to hospitals, routes for mass transit and the main arteries.

“In Seattle we only have snow and ice once every 3 to 5 years,” Maxie said.

The rare occurrence of snow in Seattle means the city doesn’t have the resources to treat every road, not to mention the hills are too dangerous to try.

“Even our plows with chains on them cannot navigate,” Maxie said.

SDOT is asking residents to clear their sidewalks and use mass transit if the roads are icy.

“I had a rollover accident once in black ice so when they say ice on the roads I try to stay off the roads,” Seattle resident Maggie Smith said.

Washington State Patrol says if you have to drive, go slower than the speed limit.

“We don’t get a lot of practice driving in these conditions that’s why we really want people to be even more cautious,” Trooper Rick Johnson said.

Tuesday morning in Kitsap County, for example, icy conditions caused several wrecks.

“If you have all-wheel or four-wheel when you drive you can get going better but you are not going to be able to stop any faster,” Johnson said.

Trooper Johnson says if drivers are going too fast for the conditions and they cause a wreck, drivers could face a penalty.

“If it’s in relation to an accident it will be $187 infraction,” Johnson said.

You could also get into trouble and face a fine if you are driving around with a frozen windshield.