SDOT's Winter Response Plan

During a severe storm, our crews work around the clock to clear Seattle’s most critical streets for buses and emergency services. Our goal is to keep Seattle moving safely. Learn more about our readiness and response plan.

Prepare

We prepare for winter storms all year long.

Snow plows next to eachother SDOT crews taking care of urban foliage. An example of salt used on roads.
We prepare & train. 
In the summer and fall, we prepare, calibrate equipment, coordinate with agency partners, and train staff. 
We maintain. 
We remove fallen trees from roads and repair signs and signals when high winds or heavy rain are forecasted. 
We stock supplies. 
We stock supplies of granular salt and salt brine so we’re ready to pre-treat key streets and bridges to prevent ice from forming. 

Monitor

  • We monitor reports 24-hours a day with a direct line to the National Weather Service and live Doppler radar feeds.
  • We learn how storms could affect neighborhoods using a forecasting tool developed with the University of Washington called SNOWWATCH.
  • Ground surface sensors and computerized sensors located on city bridges provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures. We use real-time, live-streaming cameras to see acutal conditions on key streets. 

Treat & Plow

Before Snow Fall

Crews pre-treat key streets and bridges with anti-icer to help prevent ice from forming. 

Many Streets to Treat

Seattle has about 1,200 lane-miles of major streets. It can take us up to 12 hours to clear all this ground after a break in the storm. 

We Use GPS

Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks the locations of the plows and trucks. This map on our website shows how recently a street has been cleared. 

When Snow Falls

Crews continuously plow streets and treat them with salt where needed. We prioritize routes to major institutions like hospitals, schools, and major employers. Non-arterial streets are not plowed.