Tag Archives: ICE

Kitsap not affected by snow/ice cutbacks

The in basket: Jerry Darnall of Kingston e-mailed to say, “Both King County and Pierce County public works departments have made the regional news regarding the serious cutbacks to snow removal\sanding in those counties due to the depression.

“Just curious how Kitsap’s snow removal \ sanding budget projections are looking?

“Since I do not live anywhere near an essential county employee, is it time to pull the ‘all weather’ tires and go back to the lugged studs?” he asked.

The out basket: If Jerry got by with all weather tires when it snowed in previous years, he should be able to stick with them this winter.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works and Claudia Bingham-Baker of this region of state highways both say there will be no reductions in snow and ice removal services from previous winters.

Doug has just turned out a news release about the county’s electronic notification system that provides information in any kind of inclement weather.  

“We have several options that help residents keep informed during winter storms,” he said. “These options let residents choose the best way for them to receive automatic updates during inclement weather. Subscribers choose from several options on the type of information they want, how they want it delivered, and how frequently they want updates.” There is no charge and about 7,000 residents have subscribed so far, Doug said..

Information sent through this system is posted to the County’s Facebook page and sent to the County’s Twitter feed. Winter storm updates are also posted to the county’s Inclement Weather page at www.kitsapgov.com/press/inclement_weather.asp. and can be sent to mobile devices. The news release includes a lot more information, and can be viewed in full at the top of the county’s home page at www.kitsapgov.com/.

Then there is the snow and ice plan itself, seen online at  http://www.kitsapgov.com/pw/snowplow.htm.

It will tell you how soon you can expect the roads near you to be plowed and includes a color-coded map to show each road’s priority. It shows Priority 1 roads like Hansville, Clear Creek and Holly roads and Mile Hill Drive that are plowed first, then priority 2 roads like Sunnyslope, Willamette Meridian, Wildcat and Sawdust Hill roads, which they’ll get to when the Priority 1s are clear. If the snow continues or resumes falling, they’ll go back to the Priority 1s and those who use Priority 2s and even smaller roads will have to wait.

The plan also details preventive measures, saying, “When conditions are favorable for ice forming on roadways, sand and/or salt brine is applied to the road surface. Initial sanding and/or brining operations prioritize hills, curves, intersections, bridges, and elevated structures on Priority 1 and Priority 2 routes.”

Locked or not, don’t leave your car running to de-ice the windshield

The in basket: When I was going to Olympic College back in the 1960s, a friend who drove would start his car and go back in the house on frosty mornings until the windows were clear. He managed not to get the car stolen.

PEMCO Insurance has been polling Northwest residents about things, and doing what my friend did way back then was a recent subject.

“About half (53 percent) of respondents who live in Eastern Washington deal with frost, ice or snow on their windshield each day in colder months,” a company news release said. “In the moderate temperatures on the west side of the state, about two-thirds (60 percent) of drivers tend to an icy windshield at least once per week.

“But icy windshields present more than a tedious winter task – they also can be invitations to car thieves looking for unattended, idling cars left running by drivers waiting for them to warm up,” the company said.

“According to PEMCO’s poll, about two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) who wake up to icy windshields opt to crank their car’s heater before using a scraper to clear their windshield of ice or frost or snow.

“You’ve probably seen ‘puffers’ – people who start their cars and then go back inside while the heater warms up, and that’s against the law in many areas,” the company said. “Even if you leave your car unattended for just a few minutes, that’s plenty of time for a thief to break in and drive away,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO Insurance spokesperson.

“In fact, Washington state law requires drivers to stop their car’s engine, lock the ignition, remove the keys and set the brake before leaving a vehicle unattended.

“Car theft isn’t the only risk posed by frosty windshields,” it continued. “The poll finds that about a quarter (24 percent) of residents in Portland and slightly fewer in Washington (17 percent) don’t always finish scraping their windshields clear of ice or snow. What’s more, an equal number are unaware that a frosty windshield could get them pulled over.”

I asked if locking your car with a second set of keys and leaving it running changed the picture. I also asked my State Patrol contact if fog or ice on the other windows can be cause for a citation.

The out basket: Not at all, Osterberg told me. It still would be illegal and professional car thieves aren’t deterred much by locked doors. Some professional thieves cruise neighborhoods looking for an unoccupied car running and would have the ability to enter the car quickly and steal it, locked or not, he said.

State Trooper Russ Winger had this to say about my second question:

“You need to be able see out of the vehicle in order to drive safely. That would include front, rear and side windows. It would be a basic violation of driving with due care. It is just plain dangerous to yourself and other motorists to drive with obscured visibility.
“You can be stopped for this and potentially issued a citation.
“Taking a few minutes to scrape ice, snow or defrost the windows so you can see properly is not to much to expect from any motorist,” Russ said. “If a driver causes an accident due to this lack of common sense and basic effort, one could make a case for a negligent driving citation.

How’s Kitsap’s new salt brine working this week?


The in basket: Mile Hill Drive near Woods Road in the area in which I live was treacherously icy Sunday morning, even though I had seen one of the Kitsap County’s tanker trucks there Saturday morning spraying the salt brine solution the county had introduced to its arsenal of ice and snow fighters. By Monday morning, the road was bare and dry.

I asked if the solution was living up to expectations.

The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for the county’s public works, said he ” had quite the opposite experience,” finding the roads near the Old Clifton Road church where he is directing a play to be bare and dry most of the weekend. “Overall it was very successful in most areas,” he said. “The key is having a period of dry road to apply the brine before the freeze. Based on my conversation with the road supervisors this morning salt-brine is an effective tool to add to our snow and ice arsenal.

He took exception to a suggestion I had heard that reducing cracked windshield claims against the county from the small rocks in sand spread on the roads was a motivating factor in going to brine. 

“It seems a bit cynical to me to assume we would place damage claims above road safety,” Doug said. . “We still use sand and always will. There are many applications where sand is the best tool to use. Salt brine is not a cure-all, and has its limits. It does allow us to use less sand under certain circumstances, which should, ultimately lead to less claims. “But it certainly isn’t even a benefit we considered when we made the decision to use salt brine. “We want to make roads as safe as possible in inclement weather, and whether it is salt or sand, we will use whatever it takes to reach that goal.

The brine solution did cut the amount of sand that would otherwise have been needed on the county roads last weekend nearly in half, he said.

Thursday’s heavy snow was another matter.

“The primary benefit the brine mixture offers is the ability to keep snow and ice from adhering to road surfaces, rather than melting snow. This helps keep roads clear in light snow, and helps make plowing easier in heavier snow. Once you get past a couple of inches of snow, cars compact whatever there is and that can inhibit the ability of the salt brine to prevent adhesion to the road surface. This results in the compact snow and ice on the roads today.

” It does make plowing more efficient because the bond between the compact snow and ice and the road is not as strong.”

The county expects it to remain effective with temperatures into the teens and maybe single digits.

“We use salt brine the same way we use sand,” Doug said. “It’s used first on hills, at intersections, around corners, in areas that remain shaded most of the day, bridge decks, and known areas that are prone to icing. It is also used, like sand, in other areas as conditions warrant. We have three trucks equipped to distribute salt brine, one for each road district. They follow the same priorities described in the county’s snow plowing plan in choosing where to spray.

You can see that plan online at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/snowplow.htm.


Will salt brine hurt wire in highway structures?


The in basket: Jerry Darnall of Kingston noted the Road Warrior about Kitsap County plans to add salt brine to its ice-control measures on county roads this winter (you can find in on the Road Warrior blog if you missed it) and e-mailed to say, “Been watching with interest the new style of retainer wall, both  

the county and the state have been using a lot. 

“A considerable amount of the new (Highway) 305 expansion in Poulsbo is done this way, galvanized metal grid, then filled with compacted rock,” Jerry said. 

“Seemed effective and efficient … until I read that Kitsap is going to start using salt compounds on roads this winter,” he wrote. “While this stuff  

is obviously galvanized, I suspect the overall life of the metal  

component of those retainer walls just dropped by a third.

“While the salt compound may be cheaper up front, I wonder what the longer term costs will be,” Jerry wrote. “Any estimates?”

The out basket: Those are called gabion baskets and have been around for decades, usually inside retaining walls. They have a line of them for what appear to be decorative purposes on the downhill side of the new Kitsap County administrative building in Port Orchard. I haven’t gotten anybody to tell me why they were chosen, so my best guess so far is that they provide a wall that skateboarders can’t skate on.

The brine solution is to be used only on county roads this winter, so unless vehicles drag it with them, state highway impacts wouldn’t be great. 

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works said the impacts on county roads aren’t expected to be any greater. “We checked with Pierce County, Washington State Department of

Transportation, and the California Department of Transportation to see

if they have had problems with salt-brine and gabion mesh corrosion,” Doug said. “None of the agencies noticed any significant deterioration. An extensive

study was conducted by CALTRANS and is available here:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/hydrology/gabion.htm,” he said.

There’ll be salt brine on Kitsap County roads this winter

The in basket: John Quatermass of Gig Harbor says he’s heard Kitsap County plans to introduce a salt product to its battle with roadway ice and snow this winter.  He wonders if it’s true.

The out basket: Yes, says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. He will be announcing the change in a day or two, with a question-and-answer format that addresses the most common question motorists have about salt – how much car damage will it cause. 

The product to be used isn’t granular salt, but a brine solution that will be sprayed on the roads and contain 23.3 percent sodium chloride. The upcoming new release calls it “the safest and most cost-effective anti-icing product available.”

Many people “have stories about how chemicals affected their cars when they lived back east,” it says, seeking to allay fears created by that experience.

This area’s snow and ice storms are relatively mild and brief, the news release says, and are usually followed by rain that washes corrosive anti-icers off the roadway. Further, it says, modern cars are much less vulnerable to corrosion due largely to what they are made of. Still, washing the underside of your car intermittently during the winter is a good idea, it says. 

The state has used a different chemical it sprays on trouble areas before ice is expected to form, inhibiting its formation. It accounts for the parallel dark lines you see on freeway ramps, bridges and curves during cold weather. Duke Stryker, head of the state maintenance department here, said the state uses some salt brine, but none here yet.

The county news release says alternatives to the salt brine cost two to three times more and cites a state transportation department study that found little difference in the corrosive properties of the brine compared to other ice-inhibiting products. 

It cited another state study that said environmental impacts, as measured on Highway 97 at Peshastin Creek in eastern Washington, were insignificant.

The entire news release will be on the public works Web site, www.kitsapgov.com/pw/ by the end of the week, Doug says.

IDing emergency numbers on a cell phone

The in basket: The way e-mails make the rounds these days, you may have seen the one about labeling phone numbers in your cell phone as ICE or I.C.E., for In Case of Emergency.

I just saw it for the first time, sent in by Clay Weyrick. It evidently originated with a British paramedic who had too often been unable to identify which number in an injured or killed person’s cell phone should be called to notify the person whom the phone owner would want to be told about such a crisis. Even calling a number labeled “Mom” can be a mistake if Mom is too emotionally fragile to deal with it over the phone.

The paramedic urges everyone to enter the best number and name it ICE, so emergency responders can make the key call to the correct person. If you have more than one, call them ICE1, ICE2, etc.

The out basket: You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot to say about such an idea, but urban legend debunker Snopes.com, has several paragraphs on the subject. 

Short answer: Snopes says it’s a true story and a good idea. BUT…

Use it in addition to, not in place of, more traditional ways of getting this word out, such as a card in the wallet near your photo ID. 

Even if they find ICE in a cell phone, responders often can’t be sure it’s the patient’s phone, and  it can be out of power or damaged. They might also not be able to get to a given phone’s preset numbers, given the variety of phones in existence. 

In any event, hospital personnel or those dealing with the patient after the paramedics deliver them are more likely to benefit, as they are the one’s who try to reach the family.

Snopes also said that e-mails saying an ICE entry will enable hackers to drain your minutes or introduce viruses ARE hoaxes.