OKANOGAN COUNTY – A winter storm warning from the National Weather Service in Spokane for the Okanogan Highlands and the Okanogan Valley was canceled late Monday, however, a winter storm advisory was to be in effect until mid-week.
The National Weather Service predicted continued snow with an accumulation of another one to three inches in the valley and three to five inches in the mountains. Rain or snow, with lows in the twenties to thirties is expected through Sunday night.
With the winter driving season here, Okanogan County Department of Public Works is trying to make the traveling public aware that due to declining revenues, smaller crew sizes and rising costs of operation and maintenance, there may be a noticeable change in winter plowing operations.
“Our crews take great pride in providing a safe road system for our communities but with our revenue shortfall, we are looking at reducing overtime hours, equipment time and materials used for traction and deicing,” writes the county in a Public Works Department press release.
In order to work within budgetary goals, the county has prioritized snowplow routes to be most beneficial and efficient to the citizens. Roads that will not receive winter maintenance will be posted with signs stating “no winter maintenance.” Weekend and evening plowing will also be kept to a minimum using the Okanogan County Snow and Ice Policy as a guideline for the crews to follow. School bus routes will continue to be held at a high priority.
“With these changes, it is more important than ever for the traveling public to prepare themselves and their vehicles for all the different winter driving conditions and emergency situations that we can experience in Okanogan County. Driving habits should reflect road conditions such as: being patient and allowing more travel time to reach your destination, slower speeds, and leaving extra room between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of you. Be aware of slick conditions when approaching intersections, bridges or shady areas,” reads the press release.
Those that find themselves behind a snowplow are asked to stay behind it leaving distance for the operator to apply sand. Do not pass until it is safe or the plow truck pulls off the road. A snowplow driver’s field of vision is limited so stay back at least 250 feet, advises Public Works. They also ask that people not park on the road or in a snowplow turn around area as this makes it difficult for equipment operations while hampering snow removal and could result in a vehicle being towed away or damaged
“Okanogan County Department of Public Works is experiencing historical revenue shortfalls, but still strives to provide a safe road system with the funding we have. We do appreciate your attention, patience and cooperation during this time to help provide safe travel for everyone,” states the press release.