Lending a Hand to Portland

On January 11, 2017, Portland was hit with a massive snowstorm, making national headlines. So we sent crews to help out the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It was hard work, but our crews say they’ll never forget the trip to help our friends to the south.

Our Maintenance Operations Division sent more than a dozen crew members and several pieces of equipment.


Over two days, our crews helped to clear ice and snow from roadways, as well as fallen trees, some of which landed on top of cars, throughout the entire city of Portland.

Our crew takes a break on the way home from Portland.

Our crew takes a break on the way home from Portland.

When our crews came back home to Seattle, they received this thank you letter from the City of Portland to the City of Seattle.

Portland Thank You letter

We are happy to have assisted the City of Portland and its residents and we look forward to our continued collaboration throughout all weather conditions.

Our crews prepare for wintry weather all year round. Check out our Winter Weather page to see our readiness plan, tips on preparing for cold weather, and the always useful winter weather map.

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We got snow! Here’s what we did

In preparation for the Snow event on Monday February 6, we put our response crews on 12-hour shifts, that began on Sunday evening. Our trucks started treating streets and elevated structures. By the time you woke up on Monday to find out kids had a snow day, here’s what SDOT crews had already done.

Snow 2-7-17

Early morning Monday:

Snow 3

Pine Street

  • Mayor Murray visited SDOT Charles Street Maintenance facility to chat with local media and Maintenance Division Director Rodney Maxie about our Winter response.
snow 4

Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Maintenance Operations Division Director Rodney Maxie with media.

  • Crews treated elevated structures and overpasses with salt.
  • SDOT hand crews treated pedestrian routes.
  • Our Incident Response Teams responded to traffic incidents.
  • SDOT tree crews cleared downed trees and branches obstructing streets, such as W Mercer Place.
Tree down

Tree down at W Mercer Place east of Elliot Ave

By Midday:

  • SDOT crews continued to patrolling snow and ice routes, plowing and treating as needed.
  • SDOT tree crews continue to respond to downed trees in the right of way.
  • We replenished our materials in preparation for the evening.


  • Gold & Emerald routes were mostly bare and wet going into the PM commute.
  • Protected Bike Lanes were also clear.

Monday overnight into Tuesday:

  • 30 trucks worked overnight treating the Gold and Emerald priority routes for the Tuesday morning commute.

Good job team! Safe Travels Everyone!

Check out our Winter Weather Home page that has lots of useful information that can help you prepare before snow falls next time.

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City Reminds Travelers to use Extra Caution in Cold Weather

SDOT reminds residents to take great care when outside during winter weather conditions.

In addition to challenging travel conditions, trees can be significantly weakened by heavy snow and/or ice and can fall, putting those below at risk. Bent and broken tree limbs weighed down by snow or ice can fall unexpectedly, so take time to be aware of your surroundings. Particular caution should be taken when in parks and heavily wooded areas.

To report a downed tree that is blocking a city street or sidewalk, please call SDOT’s 24/7 Dispatch Center at 206-386-1218.

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A Closer Look at the Snow Plow Map

On our SDOT home page you’ll see a link to Seattle Winter Weather Resources and that’s where you’ll find our Winter Weather Response Map, or what some people simply call the “snow plow map.”

If we get snow, this handy interactive map can tell you which streets have been plowed or de-iced in the last hour: SDOT sends out a fleet of vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems. The map layers show the recent paths of our trucks, by time frame and type of equipment.


Snapshot of the snow plow route map.

There’s More

Knowing which streets have been plowed after it snows is very useful information for planning your route, but with this map you can also learn:

  • which streets are closed.
  • which streets are our Gold and Emerald priority routes.
  • where important places like police and fire stations, hospitals or community centers are.
  • and even what the road temperatures are!

Snapshot of road temps.

Check out all the info on the Winter Weather Response Map here!

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Winter Weather…Invierno…Lagay ng Panahon sa Winter…

ww-brochure-frontIn time for our first snow earlier this month, we delivered thousands of our annual Winter Weather brochures to Seattle Public Schools, Public Library branches, Neighborhood Service Centers and other organizations around the city to help residents prepare for cold weather.


Did you know that this helpful brochure is available in 10 languages?



Our Winter Weather brochure has a large map of Seattle’s snow and ice routes, lists important phone numbers and resources to use during winter storms, and offers preparedness tips. Be ready!


Winter Weather brochures are free at Seattle Public Library branches and Neighborhood Service Centers. Click here for more information on Winter Weather prep.

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Know Your Snow Routes

Do you have a plan in the event of snow? We do! And we want to help you to be ready too.

As part of our winter weather response plan, SDOT commits to clearing snow from identified routes on our Winter Weather snow and ice route map throughout the city within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm. The map can help you know what to expect.


SDOT’s snow routes show the level of service planned for each street, not which streets will be plowed first. These streets were selected because they are the busiest streets that connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with downtown and the greater Puget Sound region.

Levels of Service

Gold Snow Routes: These are streets of regional importance for hospitals, buses, large trucks and major employers. SDOT’s objective is to provide bare and wet pavement over all travel lanes within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm.

Emerald Snow Routes: These are streets of citywide importance for hospitals, buses and general traffic.  SDOT’s objective is to provide bare and wet pavement for one lane in each direction within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm.

Coordination with the Bus System

SDOT and King County Metro Transit have worked carefully to make sure that SDOT’s snow routes meet the needs of the transit–riding public. The snow routes include the streets that Metro buses use when it snows.

Other Streets

There are some streets that SDOT crews will not be able to plow or treat with salt. These are the lesser traveled streets, and streets on hills that often become unsafe for the public and for SDOT trucks during periods of ice and snow.

Our crews know which steep streets often become unsafe for driving when it snows. When Seattle Police decide a street is unsafe for driving, they move a Street Closed sign into the middle of the road. For your safety, it is important to obey the Street Closed signs even if a street looks safe to you. There may be ice under the snow, or there may be a trouble spot that you can’t see.

Remember, SDOT does not plow non-arterial streets. Businesses and residents are responsible for shoveling and de-icing the sidewalks next to their property.

See a larger online version of our Snow Route map here.


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Surviving Seattle Snow with Plows, Plans, and a lot of Salt

Snow struck Seattle, and we’re happy to say our response was a success at keeping the city moving!

As flakes turned to flurries on Thursday night, our snow response teams at Charles Street Service Station were ready with plows, deicers, and a lot (lot) of salt. We even got a visit from Mayor Ed Murray!


We were happy for the chance to talk with the Mayor, and accompanying news crews, about our plan to keep the city moving even in inclement weather. Through our focus on arterial (main) roads along our Gold and Green routes, and the hard work of our crews through the night, the Friday AM commute was minimally interrupted for cars and buses.

In addition to which routes we’d plow, we discussed the importance of road salt (magnesium chloride) as an anti-icing agent to prevent ice freezing to pavement. This salt is better for mobility and the environment than traditionally used sand, although neither would be good on popcorn.


Most modern cars have an undercoating which protects against any corrosion from the road salt, but we do recommend drivers wash vehicles to prevent build-up. Our street sweeping team will also go out after the weather warms to clean up any residual salt. Our crews use the latest innovations to ensure we can make the roads safe in a sustainable way.


We’ve learned a lot about preparing for winter weather, and we may get the chance to put it into practice again soon, as more snow could be on the way. Stay safe out there, and check our Winter Weather Map for the latest route information!

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