SPOKANE, Wash. - Heavy snowfall mixed with temperatures in the mid to high-20's have combined to make many Spokane-area roadways extremely treacherous for the Monday evening commute.
So many collisions and slide-offs have been reported that the sheriff's patrol commander has requested a Tier Two dispatch plan into action.
"Tier Two" dispatch operations are initiated when there is a short-term but extremely large spike in requests for police services.
Call takers in 911 will continue to log requests for law enforcement services, but will advise callers that due to the heavy call load, service may be delayed for an unspecified period of time.
Sheriff's patrol units will be dispatched to potential injury crashes and crimes against persons calls only until the spike is reduced.
Monday's snowfall caused headaches for law enforcement agencies throughout the day as motorists accustomed to recent favorable road conditions found themselves navigating shaded curves and hillsides made slippery by snow compacting beneath their wheels.
The first Spokane County crash was reported at 27 minutes after midnight. By 4 p.m., more than 135 crashes and slide-offs had been reported to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, Spokane Police Department and Washington State Patrol.
Sheriff's patrol supervisors, swamped with reports of crashes, urged motorists heading home Monday to use extreme caution and also urged residents not needing to be on the roadways to stay home and safe.
Usual snowy weather hotspots, such as the Argonne hill between Wellesley and Bigelow Gulch, were closed due to slide-offs and wrecks. Bigelow Gulch was also closed west of Argonne and motorists were urged to find an alternate route home.
Areas north, south and west of Spokane that are typically problems during snowstorms were meeting or exceeding icing expectations Monday afternoon. Interstate 90 was also reportedly extremely icy in areas.