Winter Storm Ready

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Weather in the Pacific Northwest can be tricky to navigate. That "mostly sunny" winter day can easily turn into a downpour, or even a slushy snowstorm with short notice, which is why we've created this Winter Storm Ready information page. The City has consolidated the information residents, business owners, and visitors need to safely navigate Mercer Island throughout winter storm season.

FOR THE LATEST UPDATES ON CONDITIONS, SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEWS TAB BELOW.

Power Outages

Power outages can happen for a number of reasons, typically a fallen tree or too much snow/ice buildup on powerlines. The City does not own or manage these powerlines. Please call Puget Sound Energy (PSE) at 1-888-225-5773 to report outages and learn about service restoration. Customers can also view PSE's outage map with estimated power restoration times at www.pse.com/outage/outage-map. For more information, visit our article on Power Outages.

Excessive Rain and Increased Landslide Risk

Landslides develop during intense rainfall, runoff, or rapid snowmelt. The earth can move rapidly, sometimes with little or no warning. Mercer Island sees about 5-15 slides each year. To report a non-life-threatening landslide, call our regional, non-emergency 24-hour dispatch center (425) 577-5656. In the case of an emergency call 9-1-1. Visit our Landslide Safety article for more information.

Ice and Snow

The Public Works Department's goal is to provide sanding, plowing, and de-icing services on public streets when winter weather brings snow and ice, in order of priority. Private streets are not maintained or plowed by the City. Click here to view the map of privately maintained streets.

In addition to plowing and sanding, crews often apply a pre-treatment of liquid deicer (see map) to other arterials located on steep hills and major intersections to help prevent minor ice build-up and make streets easier to plow. If compacted snow has already built up on the roadway, this deicer is less effective.

The City has six plows, three of which have sander units; one truck is used mostly for liquid de-icing. Follow this link for more information on the City's Snow and Ice Response Plan.


Your Resource for Up-to-Date Information and Safety Tips

During a major winter weather event, this page will be updated regularly with road closures/openings, safety tips, and more. Sign up to receive the Winter Weather E-Newsletter delivered straight to your inbox during weather event (see upper right-hand menu).



Weather in the Pacific Northwest can be tricky to navigate. That "mostly sunny" winter day can easily turn into a downpour, or even a slushy snowstorm with short notice, which is why we've created this Winter Storm Ready information page. The City has consolidated the information residents, business owners, and visitors need to safely navigate Mercer Island throughout winter storm season.

FOR THE LATEST UPDATES ON CONDITIONS, SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEWS TAB BELOW.

Power Outages

Power outages can happen for a number of reasons, typically a fallen tree or too much snow/ice buildup on powerlines. The City does not own or manage these powerlines. Please call Puget Sound Energy (PSE) at 1-888-225-5773 to report outages and learn about service restoration. Customers can also view PSE's outage map with estimated power restoration times at www.pse.com/outage/outage-map. For more information, visit our article on Power Outages.

Excessive Rain and Increased Landslide Risk

Landslides develop during intense rainfall, runoff, or rapid snowmelt. The earth can move rapidly, sometimes with little or no warning. Mercer Island sees about 5-15 slides each year. To report a non-life-threatening landslide, call our regional, non-emergency 24-hour dispatch center (425) 577-5656. In the case of an emergency call 9-1-1. Visit our Landslide Safety article for more information.

Ice and Snow

The Public Works Department's goal is to provide sanding, plowing, and de-icing services on public streets when winter weather brings snow and ice, in order of priority. Private streets are not maintained or plowed by the City. Click here to view the map of privately maintained streets.

In addition to plowing and sanding, crews often apply a pre-treatment of liquid deicer (see map) to other arterials located on steep hills and major intersections to help prevent minor ice build-up and make streets easier to plow. If compacted snow has already built up on the roadway, this deicer is less effective.

The City has six plows, three of which have sander units; one truck is used mostly for liquid de-icing. Follow this link for more information on the City's Snow and Ice Response Plan.


Your Resource for Up-to-Date Information and Safety Tips

During a major winter weather event, this page will be updated regularly with road closures/openings, safety tips, and more. Sign up to receive the Winter Weather E-Newsletter delivered straight to your inbox during weather event (see upper right-hand menu).


  • Winter Weather Arriving Early

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    22 Oct 2020
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    Winter weather is arriving early in the Pacific Northwest.

    October 22, 2020 - According to the National Weather Service, a strong and cold weather system will move through the area on Friday, bringing lowland rain, mountain snow, and cold temperatures that will last into the weekend.

    City crews are ready, are you?

    It is never too early to be prepared!

    This page will be updated if roads are closed due to unsafe conditions. Check back for updates or sign up to receive updates via email.

  • Put A Freeze on Winter Fires

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    22 Oct 2020
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    Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months. Keep your home and family safe this winter by following these tips:

    Fireplace Safety

    The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (27%) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. Make sure to check and clean your flues and chimney. A blocked flue will cause smoke to back up into the fire pit and smoke will accumulate in the house. Click here for more from MIFD.

    Heating

    Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%). Never use an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance.

    Carbon Monoxide

    Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties. Install a CO detector and make sure to change batteries twice a year (at the start and ending of Daylight Savings).

    Generators

    Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission report, half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools. Never use a generator or gas grill inside the home.

    Candles

    December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top two days for home candle fires are Christmas and Christmas Eve. Each year between 2013-2017, an average of 7,900 home candle fires were reported each year. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

    Electrical

    Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters. Change your smoke detector's batteries twice a year (at the start and ending of Daylight Savings) and test annually to make sure it is working properly.

  • Understanding Regional Flooding and Increased Landslide Risk

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    06 Feb 2020
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    Heavy rain not only causes river flooding, but the saturated ground can lead to an increased threat of landslides.

    It is important to know how to recognize the warning signs of a landslide and how to respond if a landslide should occur.


    Recognize the Warning Signs


    Fast-moving landslides:


    • Listen and watch for rushing water, mud, and unusual sounds like trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
    • A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears.
    • Moving fences, retaining walls, utility poles, k-rails, boulders, or trees.
    Slow-moving landslides:

    • Changes occur in your landscape such as patterns of storm-water drainage on slopes (especially the places where runoff water converges), land movement, small slides, flows, or progressively leaning trees.
    • Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
    • New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations.
    • Outside walls, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
    • Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
    • Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
    • Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
    • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
    • The ground slopes downward in one direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.
    • Underground utility lines break.
    To report a non-life-threatening landslide, call our regional, non-emergency dispatch center (425) 577-5656, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    In the case of an emergency always call 9-1-1.

    For more information, check out the Landslide Safety article on Let's Talk or visit ready.gov.

    Stay safe and follow road signs that warn you about water over roadways! Remember, just six inches of moving water can knock a person down and one foot of moving water can sweep away a vehicle.


  • Avoid Water Covered Roads

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    06 Jan 2020
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    Did you know that six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away?

    Just a few inches can make the difference between crossing the street or getting stuck in the mud.

    Don't take that chance!

    If you see water over the roadway, turn around.


  • Landslide Safety

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    06 Jan 2020
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    Mercer Island can be prone to natural hazards including flooding and landslides.

    To report a non-life-threatening landslide, call our regional, non-emergency dispatch center (425) 577-5656, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the case of an emergency always call 9-1-1.


    What is a Landslide?

    Landslides develop during intense rainfall, runoff, or rapid snowmelt, changing the earth into a flowing river of mud. They can flow rapidly, striking with little or no warning at avalanche speeds (faster than a person can run). In a landslide, masses of rock, earth or debris move down a slope. Debris and mud flows are rivers of rock, earth, and other debris saturated with water. Landslides can travel many miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials. Debris flows don’t always stay in stream channels and they can flow sideways as well as downhill.

    Recognize the Warning Signs

    Fast-moving landslides and debris flows pose threats to life. Warning signs include:

    • Listen and watch for rushing water, mud, unusual sounds.
    • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris.
    • A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears.
    • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, k-rails, boulders, or trees move.
    • Huge boulders in the landscape can be signs of past debris flows.

    Slow-moving landslides pose threats to property. Warning signs include:

    • Changes occur in your landscape such as patterns of storm-water drainage on slopes (especially the places where runoff water converges) land movement, small slides, flows, or progressively leaning trees.
    • Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
    • New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations.
    • Outside walls, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
    • Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
    • Underground utility lines break.
    • Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
    • Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
    • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
    • The ground slopes downward in one direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.


    City Response

    As soon as the City learns of such an event, the City's Building Official travels directly to the affected site to assess the damage firsthand, and determine whether the buildings involved are still safe for occupancy. Unsafe buildings are "red-tagged" and may not be occupied until cleared by a geo-technical engineer, hired by the owner. You can help by making sure storm drains are clear in your neighborhood to help rain water flow away.

    More Information

    The City has consolidated links to more information, landslide hazard maps, and more. Click the links below for more information.

    Click here for a City informational handout on landslides and Mercer Island.


    Click here to view the City's landslide hazard map.


    Click here to view the USGS local website monitoring current rainfall and forecasting landslide potential.


    Click here for a factsheet on how landslides occur from the State's Geologic Hazards Program.


    Click here for general landslide information from FEMA.

  • Power Outages

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    06 Jan 2020
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    Reporting an Outage

    PSE Outage MapThe City does not own or manage powerlines. Please call Puget Sound Energy to report power outages and hear about service updates (number: 1-888-225-5773). Customers can also view an outage map with estimated power restoration times at www.pse.com/outage/outage-map.

    Please do not call 9-1-1 for non-emergency questions, such as power outage duration or reasons for the outage.

    What to Do During a Power Outage

    • Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs. If you encounter downed power lines and no signage or utility crews in the area, call 9-1-1.
    • Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for up to 12 hours.
    • Turn light switches and buttons on lamps or appliances to the “off” position.
    • Unplug computers and other sensitive equipment to protect them from possible power surges when the power is restored.
    • Leave one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
    • Never use gas ovens, gas ranges, barbecues or portable or propane heaters for indoor heating—they use oxygen and create carbon monoxide that can cause suffocation.
    • Use battery-operated flashlights or glow sticks for lighting vs. candles.

    For more information and safety tips visit the Washington State Department of Health's Power Outages information page.
  • Snow and Ice Response Plan

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    06 Jan 2020
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    The Public Works Department's goal is to provide sanding, plowing,and de-icing services on public streets that allow traffic to enter and leave the Island safely when winter weather brings snow and ice.

    The City has six plows, three of which have sander units; one truck is used mostly for liquid de-icing.

    The top priority is the primary routes that access I-90, schools and the Town Center, and other important arterials. This includes arterials such as Island Crest Way, Gallagher Hill Road, East Mercer Way, West Mercer Way, North Mercer Way, Mercerwood Drive, SE 40th Street, SE 53rd Place, SE 68th Street, 70th Ave SE, and 72nd Ave SE.

    In addition to plowing and sanding, crews also apply a pre-treatment of liquid deicer to other arterials located on steep hills and major intersections; this can help prevent minor ice build-up and makes treated streets easier to plow. See Deicing Pre-Treatment Locations Map for more information.

    Deicer Truck

    When arterials are safe to travel, crews begin working next on residential streets. Crews also respond to snow and ice situations at the request of Mercer Island Police. Unfortunately, the City does not have the personnel or equipment to clear residential neighborhoods until the main arterials are clear and passable, and must prioritize time and resources.

    During major snowstorm events, crews will be focused solely on snow removal for priority routes.

    Click on the links below to see the latest maps:

    To report a snow problem, or request sanding/deicing after a storm, please use the City's online service request portal MI-Connect (or download the app). This pushes requests directly into the workflow queue for City field crews.


  • Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

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    22 Oct 2020
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    Winter driving conditions have arrived and now is a good time to make sure you are prepared!

    Whether you are headed to the mountains for some snow-fun or over the mountains to see loved ones, we want to make sure you are ready for the conditions. Follow these tips and tricks to stay safe on the road this winter.

    Winterize Your Vehicle
    Regularly check the wipers, tires, lights, and fluid levels (radiator, windshield washer, power steering, oil and brakes). Make sure brakes and transmission are working properly. Your vehicle should also be equipped with a winter emergency kit. The following items are recommended:
    • Ice scraper, snow brush, rags and paper towels.
    • Jumper cables, basic tool kit, antifreeze, and no-freeze windshield washer fluid.
    • Shovel, mats or old rugs for traction, tire chains, salt, sand or kitty litter.
    • Blankets or sleeping bag and extra clothing (e.g. hats, socks, waterproof boots, coat and gloves).
    • Non-perishable, high calorie food.
    • Candles, waterproof matches and metal container such as a coffee can for melting snow.
    • Flashlight and extra batteries, flares or roadway reflectors.
    • Basic first aid kits and fire extinguisher.
    Vehicle Operation
    Winter driving is often the most difficult driving due to blowing snow, icy slick spots, and fewer daylight hours. When you are on the road you should:
    • Know before you go! Check out the forecast and WSDOT road status before you hit the road.
    • Wear your seat belt.
    • Be prepared to turn back or seek shelter if conditions become bad.
    • Keep your windows clear of snow and ice. Do not start off until your windshield is defrosted.
    • DRIVE SLOWER and increase your following distance. Do not use cruise control.
    • Roadway conditions may vary widely due to sun, shade, or roadway surface. Watch for slick spots especially on bridges, overpasses, and shaded spots.
    • If the pavement is snow or ice covered, start slowly and brake gently. Begin braking early when you come to an intersection.
    • Be careful after a minor accident. If you do not feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion the other driver and drive to the nearest police station, 24-hour store, service station, hospital, or fire station.
    Stuck or Stranded

    If your vehicle breaks down, pull as far off the road as possible. Your greatest personal danger at this point is that of being hit by a passing vehicle. Don't panic. Do not over-exert yourself, especially when shoveling snow or pushing a stalled or stuck vehicle.

    If you are stranded on a well traveled road, wait for assistance from police or other emergency service providers. Raise the hood, turn on the dome light and flashers to make your vehicle more noticeable and attach a cloth to the antenna or windows.

    Other drivers who see stranded motorists can do them a favor by using a cellphone to call and report the exact location and description of the vehicle.

    Back Home

    When you return home from a winter trip, wash your vehicle to remove dirt and road salt. A coat of wax will help protect the finish from the effects of salt. Lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent them from freezing.

    Winter Weather on Mercer Island

    When ice, snow or freezing fog is expected in Mercer Island, City crews head out and pre-treat known trouble spots on roads and sidewalks with de-icer, which can help prevent slippery conditions.

    During snow cycles, City plow trucks clear and sand arterials, critical intersections, and major access routes on and off the Island, followed by secondary and residential streets when time permits.

    All residents can help the City keep roadways clear and prevent accidents:

    • Please give snowplow drivers plenty of space and park well away from the road edge
    • Drive cautiously (slow, steady, headlights on, cruise control off, plan well ahead)
    • Consult the City's plowing, sanding, and deicing pages for more information
    The City does NOT plow private roads; find out if you live on one here.



  • Snow Plow Safety

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    22 Oct 2020
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    Winter driving conditions can vary from day to day. Be prepared at all times, by knowing the road conditions and having an alternate route planned.

    When you approach a snowplow from behind, pass with care.

    Only pass when you can see the road ahead.

    You should not try and pass in blowing snow.

    Allow more distance between you and the plow, they may be spreading sand or chemicals.

    Slow down and approach with caution. A snowplow may be clearing snow in that lane or preparing to turn around.

    Don't crowd the plow.



  • MICEC Inclement Weather Policy

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    19 Oct 2020
    The MICEC is not open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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    Daytime Classes & Programs
    Daytime classes and programs at the Community Center are canceled if the Mercer Island School District cancels classes due to severe weather conditions. If the Mercer Island School District is running 2 hours late, then morning classes (before 10:00 am) are canceled. A determination about afternoon and evening classes will be made by 2:00 pm. Facility operation and class cancelation information is recorded on the Inclement Weather Hotline at 206-275-7894.

    Make up classes will be rescheduled if possible, if not then a credit will be given for the canceled class. It is the responsibility of each participant in Parks & Recreations programs to know if their program has been canceled due to school district delays or cancelations of school. If participants are unsure whether a program has been canceled, they can call the Inclement Weather Hotline at 206-275-7894 or go to the school district website at www.mercerislandschools.org. For all other cancelations, participants will be notified by either a staff member or the program instructors.

    Room Rentals
    If inclement weather affects the ability of the Mercer Island Community & Event Center (MICEC) to operate properly, and we need to cancel a room rental, then we will contact your rental group and provide a refund. If your group needs to cancel due to inclement weather but the MICEC remains open for business, then the rental cancelation policy will be in effect.

    For more visit http://www.mercergov.org/Page.asp?NavID=1938.