Severe Weather - Public Works Response

News & Updates:

5:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 16, 2017: Cold, dry conditions remain for most of the day. According to forecasts at this time, when rains do begin this evening or late tonight, it's possible it may start as a mix of freezing rain. If that's the case, don't look for the thaw to come right away on Tuesday, given the thickness of the layers of snow and ice. When that thaw arrives and the frozen mass on many streets begins to break up, crews will continue to work to try to clear it away. Until we're released from this freeze, though, please continue to drive for these wintry conditions and slow down through areas where snow and ice is covering streets. Watch for pedestrians. See Sunday update for other street condition information. Thank you for your patience.

Garbage & Recycling CANCELED: Due to conditions in many residential streets and neighborhoods, Waste Connections reports that it has canceled regular Monday garbage and recycling pickups. Service updates will be posted on the Waste Connections' website at


8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017: Temperatures are forecast to break slightly above freezing Monday afternoon, before dipping down again. The break and higher temperatures will come on Tuesday, along with heavy rains and different challenges. Until then, Vancouver, like most of the areas in our region, remains frozen. Sunshine has helped warm the surface afternoons, but temperatures have stayed been below freezing and some streets are partially or mostly covered with a thick, bumpy layer of compacted ice or snow. Deicer and equipment have had limited effect in biting into and cutting through the ice under these conditions. If you see a truck passing by with the snowplow up, please keep in mind that snowplows cannot scrape under the thick layer of snow/ice; the blades ride about an inch or so along the street surface, pushing away snow and slush. These past couple of days, what remains on the City's streets has been too compacted, solidified and frozen to plow.

The National Weather Service has forecast heavy rains and potential flooding Tuesday through Thursday. That heavy rain, compounded with all the melting snow and ice, will place a lot of pressure on stormwater drains. Residents may wish to clear ice or snow-filled gutters at home. 

Garbage & Recycling: As of Sunday evening, Waste Connections is planning to proceed with regular Monday garbage and recycling pickups. If the company determines that some residential streets are too slick and icy for their trucks to safely maneuver, updates will be posted on the Waste Connections' website at


2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017: Although the sun has been shining today, temperatures remain below or about freezing levels, and that is keeping street conditions in many parts of Vancouver frozen, too. A wintry, slush mix or packed snow on many priority routes, with some places showing bare pavement. A thick layer of snow and/or ice on many residential streets.

Vancouver Public Works crews have continued to plow what they could from major, priority streets and some side streets. But at this point, what’s on the surface is so compacted and frozen that progress is limited. Once sunshine has warmed the surface slightly, crews have been applying deicer in hopes of having it activate and break through. But given the current conditions, it's very slow going. And if some forecasts are right, Vancouver may not see temperatures break and rise above freezing, enough to really thaw things out until about Tuesday, Jan. 17. And then come the rains, raising fears around the region about localized flooding.

In addition to continuing to try to improve streets where possible, Operations crews will also be tackling the storm-caused downed trees and limbs in and/or along roadways and public rights of way. Vancouver Public Works wants residents to know that some of this work may be taking place through the night, and that it is being done as a public safety precaution to remove remaining debris before heavy rains quickly return next week. Crews will attempt to minimize noise to the extent that it is possible, and we ask Vancouver residents for their patience during this time. Please be alert to the possibility of crews and equipment in the roadway to get this work done.

Click here to read the most current Winter Storm Update that has been posted on the website and sent to media.


9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13, 2017: Vancouver Public Works crews are continuing to provide 24-coverage on streets. Weather conditions are not making it easy. After getting slammed with snow, iced with freezing rains, frosted with freezing fog, and topped off by temperatures at record lows, many main streets remain packed with snow or partially so, and many neighborhood streets remain extremely icy. Everyone is ready to get back to normal. In the meantime, here is some information about what Public Works Operations crews are doing and updates from around the community:

Streets: Crews have continued to spread deicer on major routes where there are top/starts (intersections, for example), hills, overpasses, etc. Deicer is a great tool but even deicer has limitations under certain conditions. Please be aware that there are some important factors that can greatly lessen its effectiveness: A thick layer of snow and ice, a couple of inches thick. Ongoing compacting by vehicles. Severe freezes during nights, and temperatures at or near freezing during the day. And to get it all started, freezing rain on top of snow.

We have or are getting all of these. It is difficult for deicer to break through thick layers of compacted snow/ice. To get the most positive effect out of this tool, crews have been plowing what snow they can - though at this point, it's so compacted not much is coming off of major streets - and waiting until sunshine has warmed the surface slightly before applying deicer in hopes of having it activate and break through. As long as there's a thick layer and constant refreezing, it's going to be very slow going. Please know that we are continuing to do all we can to keep the City's priority routes, which serve public safety and emergency services, open.

Forecasters are now saying temperatures are likely to continue to crawl along below or near freezing until Tuesday, Jan. 17. That means the thaw will be very slow. There may even be freezing rain for the east part of the Vancouver-Portland area on Monday. Heavy rain will begin Monday night, with the greatest amounts Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing its own particular problems.

Other updates:

Second Saturday at the Water Center: This popular activity 1-3 p.m. at the Water Center has been rescheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, due to snowy and icy conditions. While it will now take place on the third Saturday of the month, not the second, expect the same kind of fun for families. Please see

MLK Jr. Day of Service: Icy and snowy conditions have resulted in rescheduling and cancellation of many events throughout the community. Click here to view a brief list. If the event you had hoped to attend is not here, please contact your event organizers.

Garbage & Recycling: At this time, regular Monday service is expected to take place on Jan. 16. However, if neighborhood streets are still slick and icy, that could change. Check Waste Connections' website at for any possible schedule changes.

Trees, Pipes & More: Unhealthy trees may fail under the weight of heavy snow covering branches. Water pipes that have frozen when temperatures plummeted and stayed below freezing may finally burst when the thaw comes. Please click here to go to the section with links and information for information about what to do and who to call. Remember: If you can, help a neighbor. Thank you.


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.