Living in this lush, temperate county means lots of rain and occasional snow. While that means the trees, plants, and fungi that make up our parks and trails are well-watered, sometimes the precipitation can be intense and cause flooding, freezing, or other inclement weather issues.
So what happens over at Parks when the weather gets unruly? What should you expect when parks and trails are blanketed in snow? Partially or fully underwater? How should you go about getting the most current information about closures, staffing levels, or detours? Let’s get into it.
1. When the rain, snow, or everything in between starts coming down, our field crew is outside assessing the situation. They coordinate across the county with other Parks crews and departments to share and gather pertinent information internally about impacted areas as they’re discovered. They then update the Communications and Community Engagement team, specifically the on-call team member if it’s after hours, so they can share out any impacts to the public.
2. The Communications and Community Engagement team works with field crews to confirm the details, the specific location(s), and the extent of the problem. Next, they put out alerts on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram story, through our e-newsletters, and on the Alerts and Closures pages to let you know about affected locations, entrance points, gates, and parking lots.
3. As safety issues arise that require additional action and communication to park users — from high water levels in a parking lot, to a downed tree blocking a trail — our Communications and Community Engagement team works with field crews to create and put up appropriate warning markers and signs.
4. If the bad weather persists, even if it’s over a weekend, field crews work in shifts and continue to monitor and work to make affected parks and trails accessible as soon as possible. The on-call Communications and Community Engagement team member also stays in touch with field staff and pushes out updates on changes to the situation, re-openings, and more.
5. The Community Engagement and Communications team monitors incoming questions and comments from residents and work with field staff or other divisions as needed to respond. A common question we receive when there’s a snowstorm is around plowing of parks and trails. FYI: In the event that it snows, we only shovel necessary walkways within parks, and we don’t plow our regional trails. Plowing can actually damage our trail system, necessitating additional repairs once the snow melts. Salting trails results in runoff that affects salmon habitat, and gravel or sand become a hazard to those on wheels when ice melts. We appreciate your understanding as we balance what’s best for the safety of parkgoers and the natural habitat.
6. We only close facilities when we have to — for your safety and to prevent further deterioration of the park, trail, facility, or natural environment in the face of already extreme weather circumstances. We thank you for respecting the closures while we work to get everything safe and sound for you to enjoy!
So, a snowstorm is in the forecast. Or torrential rain has been drumming on the rooftops. If you’re looking for the most current information about potential weather-related problems and closures in the King County park system, we recommend that you:
- Subscribe to our King County Parks e-newsletter. Make sure to subscribe to the newsletters for parks and trails that are of particular interest to you
- Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and our Parks blog
- Download SeeClickFix to help notify us of maintenance issues as you come across them. Tickets logged in SeeClickFix go directly to our field staff
- Directly check Alerts and Closures page on our website.