The City of Bellingham is preparing for another winter cold front this weekend, including support for emergency shelter efforts and preparing for snow routes.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Bellingham and Whatcom County from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon. Heavy snowfall is possible with total snow accumulations of 3 to 4 inches, and wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour are expected. Travel could be very difficult and blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.
Winter shelters are open
An emergency winter shelter plan has been activated and will remain in effect through Saturday to ensure that no one requesting help is turned away. The Lighthouse Mission Ministries (LMM), Fountain Community Church, and the City of Bellingham have activated this emergency overflow plan to open additional capacity in both an overnight shelter and day shelter.
Fountain Community Church has opened additional overnight shelter space at their church, and the City of Bellingham has made a meeting room available in the downtown library for the women staying at the shelter. This additional day center space at the library is managed by LMM and creates more space in the LMM Drop-In Center during the day. The City will remain in close communication with LMM and Fountain Community Church as the storm progresses through the weekend to continually assess the need for these services.
LMM's trained staff and volunteers will continue to manage winter shelter operations, including check-in, through the Drop-In Center at 1013 W. Holly Street. For more information on the Lighthouse Mission Ministries overnight shelter and drop-in shelter, visit www.thelighthousemission.org/what-we-do/drop-in-center.
The Winter Haven encampment behind City Hall, operated by HomesNOW!, has also reported they will provide hotel stays for all of their guests through the weekend. To contact HomesNOW! to volunteer or donate, visit homesnow.org.
Street crews ready, driving caution advised
When snow is predicted, City of Bellingham Public Works crews travel through the City's six snow routes on three shifts per day laying down deicer. Crews run four large sanders and plows, three small sanders with plows, one 1600-gallon deicer and one 500-gallon deicer.
Once snow and ice are already on the streets, City crews use straight salt in the downtown corridor and around Lake Whatcom. On other routes crews use a sand-to-salt mixture of 4:1. After the weather changes, all that sand must be swept up by the City. Before the snow storm earlier this week, Bellingham Public Works put down 4,000 gallons of brine and about 200 yards of sand and salt.
The City's snow routes – which cover much of the City's 300 lane miles of streets – are arterials and some secondary arterials, highly traveled routes and those essential for Police, Fire and Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) and Bellingham schools. That means that secondary and some residential streets will be untreated and likely slippery.
It's best to stay home if possible during these winter storm events. If you cannot, WTA routes cover nearly all of Bellingham (www.ridewta.com or (360) 676-7433). And if you must drive:
- Prepare yourself and your car, including clearing your windshield and all vehicle windows;
- Drive only when you really need to, and allow extra time and stopping distance;
- Drive for the conditions, with slower acceleration and at lower speeds; and
- Use your headlights (to help other drivers see you).
Granary Street and Waypoint Park access update
Granary Street and Waypoint Park have reopened after a temporary closure earlier this week. Construction is complete on Phase 1 of Granary and Laurel streets, and drivers can now utilize Granary Avenue to access the waterfront and Port parking facilities from Roeder Avenue. In the event of severe weather that includes high winds, the street and park may close again. Please obey any posted signage on-site
Parks and Recreation program updates
The Park Volunteer work party scheduled for Saturday at Sehome Arboretum has been cancelled and will be rescheduled. Depending on the weather other recreation programs and activities may be cancelled. Please follow the Parks and Recreation Facebook Page for updates.
For more information
For information on the City of Bellingham's 2019 winter actions to address homelessness, visit www.cob.org/services/housing/homeless/Pages/2019-winter-actions.aspx.
Public Works supervisors continue to monitor conditions and direct crews per standard protocols. The route for sanding is found here www.cob.org/services/transportation/Pages/snow-and-ice-removal.aspx and https://www.cob.org/Documents/pw/street/AllRoutes2018.pdf.