Severe Weather - Public Works Response

News & Updates:

3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017: Rains have returned. Street conditions at this time are highly dependent upon location. West of I-205 is reported to be receiving our normal winter rains. East of I-205 is reported to be receiving freezing rain at this time. Throughout Vancouver, Public Works Street crews are out plowing and clearing streets of slush where nature and deicer are working to break up compacted snow and ice.

In addition to hazards posed by freezing rain on the eastside, drivers throughout the City are urged to be extremely cautious on residential and side streets where rainwater is creating slick pools on top caked snow and ice. Vehicle spray from slush can also cause problems for both drivers and pedestrians. Please watch out for others.

Public Works Stormwater crews have spent the day checking known problem spots along major arterial streets throughout the city and digging out stormwater drains to the extent possible before the thaw. Of concern are the ice dams that have formed around drains and could prevent the flow of water. 

Wednesday Garbage & Recycling: If rains help scour out streets and it's safe for the big trucks to maneuver in neighborhoods, Waste Connections will try to reach all the regular Wednesday garbage and recycling customers they can. Because Wedneday was canceled last week and customers are able to set out twice their service amount at no extra charge, trucks are expected to fill up as fast. Waste Connections is rallying outside resources to help handle the larger-the-normal loads. Waste Connections also plans to hit the commercial stops, with a cleanup on Saturday. Caveat: If weather conditions somehow take a turn for the worse and neighborhoods remain slick and unsafe for trucks to get through, Wednesday garbage, recycling and yard debris service will be canceled.

Please see information below for more on bursting water pipes, downed trees, localized flooding and other issues. 


10:00 p.m., Monday, Jan. 16, 2017: Operations Street crews have been out this evening continuing the difficult effort of trying to break through the solid mass of ice and snow that remains in some parts of the community. More deicer was placed on trouble spots, including many within the downtown area which have been hit particularly hard with a solidified layer of compacted ice and snow. Adding to the concerns about slick conditions, the National Weather Service in Portland says to expect freezing rains Tuesday, about the time of the morning commute. Some forecasters are suggesting the best bet is to wait until later to make that commute if you can, as roads could be glazed. Areas to the east, the closer you go toward the Gorge, may also see freezing rain or ice later Tuesday, too.

Meanwhile, after the freezing rain, temperatures are expected to rise above freezing here. Then come the heavy rains. To meet concerns about possible localized flooding, Public Works has set up two self-serve sandbag sites for Vancouver residents. Sand and empty bags are provided at the sites. Residents should bring their shovels to fill bags and be prepared to transport them. Locations:
- In front of fence, near the sign at the former Golden Skate site, 4915 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
- Near the driveway access at Vancouver Public Works’ East Operations site, 912 N.E. 192nd Ave.

Tuesday Garbage and Recycling Cancellation: Waste Connections has canceled regular Tuesday garbage, recycling and yard debris service in Vancouver and throughout Clark County due to slick conditions and the chance of freezing rain in the morning. Customers are encouraged to check Waste Connections' website at for any possible schedule changes. 

Please check the latest Winter Storm Update for more information about streets and storms. Information regarding street priorities and other issues is provided on this page, below.

Please note: Severe weather updates are posted only as needed to respond to conditions. 


Vancouver Public Works keeps a close eye on weather conditions and impacts to streets and utilities. News and updates will be posted at the top of this page when severe weather arises. Updates are also posted on Facebook at and on Twitter @VanPubWorksUS.

Learn more about Public Works' priorities during severe weather, along with tips for how you can weather a storm, below.

Street Priorities:

During severe weather, Vancouver Public Works prioritizes efforts to deliver the biggest impact to major routes and overpasses that provide the backbone for public safety. Neighborhood residential streets are not deiced or plowed. See information below describing street priorities for emergency and severe weather conditions.

Reporting Problems:

For urgent issues, such as traffic signal outages, downed trees blocking City streets, help turning off water when pipes have frozen, please call the Public Works Operations Center Dispatch directly at 360-487-8177. For calls outside of regular Operations office hours (7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri), simply follow the directions to connect with our after-hours service line. Not sure if the address is within the City of Vancouver? Check the City's website:

For downed power lines, keep back and report to Clark Public Utilities at 360-992-8000 or 360-992-3000.

Please do not report urgent issues that need immediate attention through the MyVancouver app. Requests sent on the MyVancouver app and the Public Works' online service request form are typically handled the next working day when submitted and received after regular office hours.

Traffic Signal Outages:

During power outages and interruptions, Vancouver's traffic signals will go dark. When power comes back on or flickers, the signals will restart as flashing red. When signals are dark or flashing red, treat these intersections as a four-way stop, and proceed with caution.

Garbage and recycling updates:

Remember, snowy and icy conditions impact garbage and recycling collections, too. Should service be canceled due to severe weather conditions, customers who are missed will get a call from Waste Connections of Washington, providing they have a current phone number. For questions related to cancellations, schedules and accounts, contact Waste Connections by email at or call 360-892-5370

Customers who've also signed up for alerts using Vancouver's free RecycleRight app will also get a notice via their app choice of contact. Get the app here:


Severe Weather: Are you prepared?

The City of Vancouver's Department of Public Works encourages businesses and residents to plan ahead and be alert to avoid many problems associated with severe weather. The handy information below can provide you with the facts and tips you may need should severe weather strike.

Top Priorities for Vancouver's Streets:

There are more than 1,800 lane miles of streets in the City of Vancouver. When severe weather hits hard, Vancouver Public Works prioritizes its response to provide the strongest level of support for our community's life-saving public safety network.

Highest Priority
  • First on the priority list is the critical network of arterials that connect police, fire and emergency medical services. ;Public Works crews also work closely with Vancouver Fire and Vancouver Police to clear the way to specific sites where emergency access is needed. During major snow and ice storms, just keeping the top priority critical streets open and passable is a process that has to be repeated over and over again, around the clock.
Other Priorities
  • After critical public safety network of arterials come the remaining arterials, selected collectors, snow bus routes and key streets around schools and hills.
  • As weather conditions, resources and time allow, next come the collectors and public parking lots.
Residential Neighborhood Streets - What You Should Know

During severe weather, the effort to support public safety is a constant job, night and day. That is especially true during long bouts of snow and ice. Residential streets do not get plowed due to these demands and the city’s limited resources, as well as the difficulties presented by numerous driveways and cars parked along residential curbs.

Residents are encouraged to be prepared in advance for the possibility of severe weather. Be sure you have the traction devices, snow shovels and other severe winter weather necessities you may need while supplies are readily available. During and immediately after severe winter storms, please avoid driving if at all possible. When travel is necessary, leave additional time to reach your destination safely.

Fortunately, major snowstorms of significant duration are not a common occurrence in Vancouver. Winters here are generally rainy and mostly temperate, compared with other regions. When it does snow in Vancouver, it rarely stays for long.

Preventing and Handling Frozen Water Pipes

The best way to prevent water pipes from freezing is to take steps before temperatures plummet. Before freezing temperatures arrive:

  • Disconnect all garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
  • Drain in-ground irrigation systems according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Protect outside faucets and hose bibs with insulation. Wrapping them with newspaper or rags covered with plastic is a good resort if you don't have molded foam-insulating covers, designed specifically for that task and frequently found in hardware sections and stores.
  • Seal leaks around pipes that allow cold air to seep inside.
  • Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces, basements, garages and/or attics to guard against freezing.
  • Locate your home’s water shut-off valve and make sure it works, before it's ever needed in an emergency.
During freezing conditions:
  • Allow a trickle of water to drip at night from an indoor faucet, preferably one located along an exterior wall and/or farthest from where your water service connects with the main water line.
  • Open cupboard doors under sinks in kitchens and bathrooms to allow more heat to reach water pipes.
  • Vacationing? Have someone check your house to make sure the heat is still on and water is working properly. Or drain and shut off the water system, with the exception of indoor sprinkler systems.
If your water pipes freeze:
  • Please remember that you are responsible for protecting and repairing water pipes on your property should any breaks occur.
  • If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
  • NEVER try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame.
  • Without water and suspect a problem is at the meter? Please call the City's Operations Center at (360) 487-8177 for further assistance.