WSDOT prepares for gusty winds throughout Yakima Valley

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Strong winds have whipped into our region, and before Mother Nature calms down they could gust as high as 70 miles an hour. That can be dangerous on certain stretches of roads in the Valley.

Local crews from the Washington Department of Transportation are gearing up for what could be a dangerous drive over the next couple of days, as a wind advisory is in place.

And maintenance technicians like Jose Garcia know first hand how this could affect our roadways.

"On the slopes near the road there will be rocks coming down, limbs from trees on the shoulder of the road, debris that flies in there," said Garcia.

Crews will be out 24/7 to look for these downed trees, powered lines and rocks, and clear them from the road.

Some of the areas expected to be hit the hardest are Naches, Tieton, Cowiche, White Swan and US 97 between Toppenish and Goldendale.

There's also the chance of rocks falling on I-82 between Yakima and Ellensburg.

In addition to the strong winds, crews are also still looking for ice on the road. KIMA learned they don't often use sand on the road anymore, but instead prefer a chemical based salt. That's salt mixed with magnesium chloride, which helps it to activate and stick on the road quicker.

After a slow start to the season, WSDOT's 16 additional seasonal workers may be kept busy. All with the goal to keep us safe on the roads.

"Our goal is to keep it safe and keep the traveling public safe," said Garcia. "Keep the roads as clean as we can."

Funds for extra seasonal workers are built in the WSDOT's yearly budget. They say they're also getting ready for snow at the passes.