First Snowfall of the Year in the Yakima Valley - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

First Snowfall of the Year in the Yakima Valley Causes Some Dicey Driving Conditions

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It's the first snowfall of the year for the Yakima Valley, and it came as a bit of a surprise for everyone. It's the first snowfall of the year for the Yakima Valley, and it came as a bit of a surprise for everyone.

TOPPENISH, WA - It's the first snowfall of the year for the Yakima Valley, and it came as a bit of a surprise for everyone.

Pat Shellenberger with the State Department of Transportation knows these roads like the back of his hand.

"We run them everyday," said Shellenberger. "Every time we come on shift, we're out running the roads whether or not they're weather {related.} We're looking for road debris, hazards, accidents."

That's why when things get dicey like the slick roads earlier Monday, Shellenberger is out at 2:30 a.m. plowing and salting. WSDOT said they were just expecting a trace of snow but the Lower Valley was hit hard, some places accumulating four to six inches of snow.

"This is kind of a surprise," said Keith Maybee with the State Department of Transportation. "We actually got more here than we did in the Upper Valley or down in the Prosser area."

WSDOT said they have 300 lane miles to take care of in the Lower Valley. They have six trucks and 15 crew members working around the clock during the winter months.

"Once the temperature rises and things start melting off of course then we're good to go, and hopefully the traffic will dry the roads out after that," said Maybee.

The roads are better now, but state patrol said between the hours of 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. there were 53 weather related car accidents near Sunnyside.

The State Department of Transportation said they typically go through 600 tons of salt a year, but it's been considerably less so far as we've had a pretty mild winter.

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