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Snow dumps on South Kitsap

An early-morning flurry caught Port Orchard city officials and residents by surprise on Wednesday, leaving unprepared commuters skidding around unplowed roads as they tried to make their way to work.

“This was pretty unexpected,” said State Patrol Trooper Glen Tyrrell.

He said the majority of the problems the patrol had to deal with involved snow-toppled trees and branches lying in the road. Both the State Patrol and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office said most of the accidents they saw or heard about were single-car accidents involving vehicles in ditches or running into trees or barriers. There were also numerous fender benders that occurred when those unaccustomed to driving on snow-slick roads misjudged braking distances and plowed into slowing or stopped cars.

“People need to learn how to drive,” said Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend. “And people who don’t need to go out, shouldn’t go out (in bad weather).”

He was very irritated that many drivers, when they found their cars trapped by ice or deep snow, abandoned the vehicles where they stood in the middle of public thoroughfares, creating a hazard for others.

City engineer Larry Curles also noted that few drivers bothered to put snow chains on before venturing out, even though the chains would have given them needed traction on snow and slush.

Curles admitted the city got a late start on plowing the roads, especially the snow route — a maze of neighborhood streets which serves as a detour for when Sidney Avenue is undriveable. However, he also reminded the public that the city does not plow every street, only the major arterials. Curles estimated that the public works crews are responsible for keeping approximately 30 miles of streets clear.

“And that’s probably guessing real high,” he said.

Sgt. Mark Duncan of the Port Orchard Police Department said his office responded to about a dozen snow-related accidents throughout the day. He said they also got several dozen calls from people who wanted help getting their cars out of ditches, even though calling a tow truck is the responsibility of the driver of the car.

Police did assist in getting two tractor-trailers unstuck, however, and impounded one car which the driver left sticking into traffic.

One 17-year-old was arrested on a DUI charge after he crashed his car on Bethel Avenue. Nevertheless, Duncan said, it was a relatively low-key day so far as incidents were concerned.

No official inch counts were available, but Curles said the city’s public works crews reported four inches of snow covering the roads in some places.

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