The following statement was issued today by Gov. Chris Gregoire, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste and Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond:
“With temperatures remaining well below freezing across Washington state, we urge all Washingtonians to stay home and avoid driving,” Gregoire said. “Road conditions from Seattle to Kennewick to Spokane remain icy, and are forcing drivers off the road. Since yesterday morning, WSP troopers have responded to more than 1,500 collisions and assisted nearly 1,300 stranded motorists. And sadly, we’ve already suffered fatal crashes as a result of the weather conditions.”
“In the aftermath of the worst pre-Thanksgiving storm in 25 years, our state’s Emergency Management Department activated its Emergency Operations Center. The EOC has increased its staff levels, and is working in close coordination with counties across the state to respond to situations caused by the storm’s snow, wind and cold temperatures,” Gregoire added.
“By staying off the road, you’ll also help our Department of Transportation crews, which are working tirelessly and around the clock to make our roadways safe to drive on,” said Hammond. “WSDOT crews had a difficult time reaching trouble spots last night because they were caught in the same congestion that drivers found themselves in. Overnight, WSDOT crews used salt and sand de-icer, anti-icer, plows, loaders, and snow plows to clear roadways – but warn with the freezing temperatures, patches of black ice will continue to make even main arterials difficult to drive on.”
“State troopers have dealt with uncounted collisions, spin outs and disabled vehicles. If you absolutely must drive, leave early,” added Batiste. “Don’t pressure yourself to hurry. Keep the speed down, and leave plenty of stopping space between you and the car in front of you. You’ll arrive faster by taking it slower.”
“We are urging everyone to follow the advice of the National Weather Service – that is if you plan to drive, stay on the main roads and pack plenty of cold weather clothing,” Gregoire said. “Also – keep charcoal and gas grills, heaters and generators outside and wrap your pipes and outdoor faucets to prevent ruptured pipes and flooding inside your home.”