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Hello North Bend Residents,
As the snow melts from one of our biggest snow events in the past several decades, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for your patience and understanding as we endured up to 26 inches of snow over the course of 9 days. Our Public Works crews plowed around the clock and on holidays, logging over 500 hours of overtime, responding to multiple snowstorms. Their service to our community is truly commendable and I thank those of you who reached out to show support to them.
While we rarely see extended winter weather like we just experienced, it serves as a good reminder that yes, we are a mountain town. North Bend is the gateway to the Cascades, sitting at elevations of 500 - 700 feet. While being just 30 miles east of Seattle, it brings with it a different, distinct microclimate. We can often be 10 degrees cooler than Seattle and Bellevue, and stay below freezing for longer stretches. Even our closest neighbors, Snoqualmie and Issaquah, usually remain a few degrees warmer and receive less precipitation. This geographic difference makes comparisons more relative.
If you’re new to North Bend, adjusting to living in a mountain town takes time. As long-term residents know, during the winter means at times you may not be able to easily drive to work in the Bellevue/Seattle area and going east even less so. This can be true of not just your local streets, but I-90 and state routes, too. To improve your driving experience during our Cascade foothill winters, consider AWD vehicles and winter tires and please drive in consideration of the conditions, giving yourself plenty of extra time to reach your destination.
The City received some noted criticism regarding road treatment during our recent storms. As your Mayor, and I know your policy making Councilmembers agree, we welcome receiving expressions of concerns and constructive criticism on the policy choices in place. While you may not receive a direct response, rest assured your email/phone message was heard and appropriate actions were taken.
As we announced to the community in mid-December, and similarly in previous years, we do not use de-icer/anti-icer on our roadways in consideration of public health and our environment. City snowplows were working around the clock to help keep priority roads drivable, albeit, not down to bare pavement.
Part of our drinking water supply is located beneath and adjacent to City roads. Additionally, there are numerous private drinking water wells situated throughout our valley area. We do not want to adversely impact your drinking water with chemicals and geo-melt products. These products can also contaminate our environment. When used in large quantities, they can be harmful to fish and wildlife inhabitants and the general surrounding environment.
I’m sure you’re wondering how we’ve been preparing for snow. Please know, we have been making proactive investments, including adding a new, 4th snowplow this past fall. Over the past 5 years, we added new Public Works positions, and are actively trying to hire employees who live in and near North Bend, so response times are reduced during inclement weather. Additionally, we are in the process of updating our streets division fleet. We are consistently evaluating where and how we can improve within the constraints of our budget. We additionally perform “lessons learned” evaluations after major events and discuss potential revisions with Council. Our Public Health and Safety Committee is currently in this process with the Public Works Department.
This recent winter weather was stressful on our community and staff members, and we recognize it comes on top of yet another surge in COVID which continues to impact us all. Thank you again for your patience. We recognize there were some short-term inconveniences in support of long-term public and environmental health. We are fortunate our small City does not experience this type of prolonged winter weather very often.
Watch for regular press releases on this and other news about your town and check the City’s News section of the website regularly. We also are again sharing updated FAQs about our plowing policy HERE.
Again, as a City, we will examine this event and our response in an effort to identify future improvements. Your Councilmembers and City staff are dedicated to serving residents and to the livability of our small East King County mountain town.