Kirkland Snow Response

Kirkland snow plow on Juanita DriveWinter in the City of Kirkland is beautiful, but it comes with hazards. Snow and ice are always a possibility, and while the City does its best to be prepared, we need our community's help. If you’re able to do so, please stay home during a snow or ice event until the roads are clear and safe for traveling.

Please park your vehicles in your driveway or garage to give our Public Works crews and first responders access to the street. If a vehicle blocks snow and ice response activities, police may utilize towing services to clear roads of these vehicles. As always, if you're experiencing an emergency during a winter storm event, call 9-1-1.  

The mission of the City of Kirkland’s Streets Division is to operate and maintain the transportation network while ensuring that the network functions as safely and efficiently as possible. During wind, snow, and ice events, the Streets Division conducts snow removal operations, anti/deicing, traction improvements and selected road closures to mitigate hazardous traveling conditions. Because the inventory of traveled roadway lanes in the City of Kirkland exceeds the available personnel, equipment, and resources in terms of snow and ice operations, the City implements a three-level priority system when it comes to keep our roads plowed and deiced. For more information about the way streets are prioritized, please see our FAQ below. 

Snow Plow Route Map 

To help you determine whether or not it's safe to travel, the City has nearly 30 real-time online traffic cameras at various locations throughout the City. Please check road conditions before you leave!

Kirkland Traffic Cameras

Kirkland Snow Response 101

How does the City of Kirkland get ready when a winter storm is about to hit? Public Works Superintendent Ray Steiger explains more about snow response in the following video:

 

This next video gives you the basics on what happens after a snow event, including the transition from plowing and sanding to sweeping. 

 

For more information about the City of Kirkland Public Works Department, please visit our Public Works Department webpage.  

Snow Response Frequently Asked Questions

How are snow plow routes prioritized?

During inclement weather events, response is based on priority routes established annually before each winter season. Snow and ice crews mobilize in response to the severity of the event. Roadway prioritization is based on access to “lifeline” facilities (such as EvergreenHealth and the Kirkland Justice Center), roadway classification, and topographic considerations. Since each event will vary in its impact and duration, these pre-determined routes will be considered to be in effect unless the situation requires that resources be redirected. The inventory of traveled roadway lanes in the City of Kirkland exceeds the available personnel, equipment, and resources in terms of snow and ice operations.

Because of this, a three-level priority system has been developed through coordination with Police, Fire, adjacent cities, the universities, King County Metro, Lake Washington Schools and EvergreenHealth.

  • Priority 1 routes: include major arterials, bus routes, and access to and from the Kirkland Justice Center, some Fire Stations, EvergreenHealth and freeway interchanges in the Totem Lake area.
  • Priority 2 routes: include remaining arterials throughout the City.
  • Priority 3 routes: are collectors serving key areas.

Who is responsible for clearing the snow on my sidewalk?

In Kirkland, it’s the property owner's responsibility to clear the sidewalks next to or in front of their home or business. Make sure you have a snow shovel handy and consider checking in with neighbors who may have challenges clearing their sidewalks. Additionally, we need our community's help to keep storm drains clear of snow, ice and other storm debris. 

We appreciate your help in clearing storm drains of snow to help prevent flooding, but above all be safe!

  • Stand on sidewalk or parking strip (out of the road) and use a snow shovel or other tool to clear the snow and ice away. Try to clear a path for the water runoff.
  • Clear your drain only if it is safe to do so.

Is deicer safe to use at home?

Deicers help keep our sidewalks and driveways safe, but they can also pollute our local creeks and lakes.

Here are a few tips for limiting the amount of salt, sand, and deicers you use:

  • Use products according to the instructions on the label, and give them time to work. Using more doesn’t work better – it’s just more expensive (and means more pollution for our local waterways).
  • Consider purchasing a hand-held spreader to help you apply a consistent amount of product.
  • Think about spreading deicer before snow and ice start to accumulate. This will prevent snow from bonding with the pavement and speed the melting process.
  • After snow and ice melts, sweep up any excess salt or sand and throw it in the trash.

How can I receive alerts from Waste Management about my garbage service?

When snow and ice disrupt services, Waste Management will post updates to: http://servicealerts.wmnorthwest.com/kirkland/. If you wish to receive Waste Management automated dialer alerts, you can sign up on the Our Kirkland service portal by selecting “Garbage/Sewer/Water Billing” and “I Want To Receive Waste Management Alerts” in the drop down menu.
 
Remember – if your trash, recycling, or yard waste service is delayed due to inclement weather, Waste Management will collect a double load of all materials on your next regular service day. For more information, go to http://servicealerts.wmnorthwest.com/kirkland/ or call 1-800-592-9995.

For more information on residential garbage collection in the City of Kirkland, visit our Trash, Recycling + Compost Service webpage. 

If Waste Management delays service, how should I put out my extra garbage?

Image showing how to put out extra garbage and recycling

What's the best way to stay informed?

The most important thing you can do is stay informed and arm yourself with information. Check road conditions at: WSDOT Twitter and look for updated weather warnings from the National Weather Service Seattle office at: National Weather Service Seattle Twitter. And make sure to monitor the City’s FacebookTwitter and website for updates throughout the storm. If you’re interested in learning more about landslide risk and emergency preparedness, visit: Office of Emergency Management.

What should I do if the power goes out or if I see a tree on a power line?

Power utilities for the City of Kirkland are served by Puget Sound Energy (PSE). Report power outages directly online, by calling 1-888-225-5773, or using the PSE app. Do not call 9-1-1 to report power outages. Check the PSE Outage Map to get current information about outages, including estimated restoration times.

Graphic about what to do at dark traffic lights Please remember, when a power outage impacts a traffic control signal, state law guides drivers to treat the signal as an all-way stop.

Sometimes during winter storms, the weight of the snow causes tree branches to snap and come down in our roadways. While Police, Fire and Public Works staff work hard as a team to clear downed trees from public areas and roadways, please remember that when trees and powerlines interact, trained Puget Sound Energy staff must respond. Whether it’s a fallen branch, a tree leaning on a power line, or an actual power line lying on the ground, City first responders and Public Works staff are not able to make first contact. PSE technicians must clear all electrical hazards.

Please contact PSE at 888-225-5773 any time you observe a tree or a branch laying on or near a powerline. Please visit the Puget Sound Energy website to learn more about what to do if you encounter downed power lines: Puget Sound Energy. 

When the power goes out, make sure you shut off all major appliances

Kirkland Fire Prevention Bureau Fire Investigators have investigated multiple fires over the last year that were directly caused by someone leaving food on the stove and the burner on during a power outage. Many newer model stoves have an automatic shut off feature, sometimes referred to as an intelligent stove shut off device, but the legacy models found in many of our homes do not. When the power goes out, always remember to shut off all major appliances, including your stove, oven and space heaters. For added safety, unplug smaller appliances, like hairdryers and curling irons, to avoid damage from power surges.

Make this the first thing that you do when you’re faced with a power outage! When those lights go out, grab your flashlight and shut off all your stovetop burners, click off your oven and unplug those space heaters.

For more information on what to do when the power goes out, please visit our Power Outage webpage by the Kirkland Office of Emergency Management. 

Generator safety

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Plug equipment directly into the generator. Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords that are in good working condition and have a wire gauge that can handle the electric load of any connected appliances.

Find these and other generator safety tips at: Ready.gov

Important Note: Generators produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces. Sometimes referred to as the “invisible killer,” CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it unknowingly.

Carbon monoxide alarms (CO alarms), should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement. CO alarms can be placed on walls or ceilings but should be kept away from direct sunlight and humid areas. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to learn best practices for placement and height. 

What should I do if I'm in a non-injury traffic accident?

If possible, stay home throughout the storm until driving, walking, and biking routes are clear and safe for travel. If you need to go out, know what to expect on the roadways. Be aware of road closures and remember that you can check real-time road conditions using our live traffic cameras. Know that conditions vary from neighborhood to neighborhood based on micro climates, elevation, and storm response. Be aware of maintenance response vehicles and give them the space to operate. Understand your driving skills and comfort level in hazardous driving conditions. 

Please pull off the road if you are in a minor non-injury accident so that you do not block the roadway and cause additional collisions. Accidents can be reported online by visiting the Washington State Patrol at: https://www.wsp.wa.gov/driver/collision-records/ . Do not abandon your vehicle - it is a hazard to emergency responders including police, fire, and maintenance staff involved in the snow response. Your vehicle also might become a hazard for others using the road and will be at risk to damage and towing at your expense. Vehicles left blocking roadways or intersections will be removed. To check if Kirkland Police removed your vehicle, contact the NORCOM dispatch non-emergency number at 425-577-5656. 

What are the best ways to help enable the City's response during a winter storm?

If possible, stay home throughout the storm until driving, walking, and biking routes are clear and safe for travel.  If you need to go out, know what to expect on the roadways. Be aware of road closures. Know that conditions vary from neighborhood to neighborhood based on micro climates, elevation, and storm response. Be aware of maintenance response vehicles and give them the space to operate. Understand your driving skills and comfort level in hazardous driving conditions.

Park vehicles in your driveway or garage to give crews access to the street. Owners are responsible for removing/digging out their vehicles if they are parked on snow routes. If a vehicle is blocking snow and ice response activities, police may use towing services to clear the roads of these vehicles. 

Remain 50 feet away from all snow response equipment. Applications of anti/deicing materials can disperse at wide rates. If anti/deicing material does get onto a private vehicle, rinse it from the vehicle as soon as possible to reduce corrosion and keep windows clear.

Uncover storm drains in front of your house to avoid flooding and uncover gas meters to avoid gas leaks. 

How can I find out if recreation programs are cancelled?

The City of Kirkland follows the lead of the Lake Washington School District when determining cancellations during the school year. Outside of the school year, City staff will evaluate conditions and make the appropriate decision to cancel or delay programs. The Inclement Weather Hotline is 425-587-3335.

Who provides utilities in Kirkland?

Graphic about water and sewer districts The City of Kirkland is served by multiple utility providers, that can vary depending on where you live. Kirkland residents may receive their water services from City of Kirkland, the Northshore Utility District, the Woodinville Water District or City of Bellevue. Sewer services are provided by either City of Kirkland or Northshore Utility District. Knowing your utility provider can save you time in the event of a water or sewer emergency.

Please check out this map to see who provides your utilities For more information about utilities in Kirkland, visit: https://www.kirklandwa.gov/Resident/Utilities.

How can I prevent frozen and broken pipes?

Unprotected pipes can freeze, leaving you with no access to water. Even worse, they can crack or break, leaving you with potential flooding and costly repairs.

How to Protect Pipes

  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Keep outside valves open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.

Find more tips to help prevent your pipes from freezing on the Red Cross website. 

What should I do if I see a tree that has fallen onto the roadway?

For emergency issues involving trees in a street, such as an uprooted or fallen tree or a large branch dangling, please call 425-587-3900. The City does not respond to tree issues on private property. If a right-of-way tree has fallen onto private property, it is the private property owner’s responsibility.

Are there overnight shelters available?

During severe weather, the City of Kirkland offers emergency hotel vouchers to people experiencing homelessness. Vouchers are available through:

  • Peter Kirk Community Center, 352 Kirkland Ave
  • North Kirkland Community Center, Dec 28 update currently closed
  • Police Department, 11750 NE 118th St
  • Fire Department at City Hall, 123 5th Ave
  • Parks Administration at City Hall, 123 5th Ave