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    Snowed in by emails

    You can get email alerts on every aspect of the winter storm. Or you can live on an island and learn it all in 16 words.

    Just in case the local TV stations' relentless team coverage of DECEMBER STORM 2008 hasn't convinced you to crawl back under the covers and pop out sometime after the holidays, there are also email alerts to keep you from shivering in your Sorrels. Since I live on Whidbey Island, I receive WSDOT's email alerts about anything that pertains to the two ferry runs that affect me. In my case, that would be Mukilteo-Clinton and Keystone-Port Townsend. But now it seems I'm receiving other random alerts, too. One is the RPIN (Regional Public Information Network), hosted by King County and "your one-stop resource for news alerts from more than 75 government, utility, health, and first responder agencies serving citizens in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties." Here is just a portion of the emails they sent out over a six-hour period on Dec. 18, 2008:

    King County Road Closure Update

    Businesses experiencing economic losses due to Kummer Bridge repairs may qualify for assistance

    Traffic Advisory: Plan on a Wintry Afternoon Commute

    Metro to cancel or reduce some bus routes for remainder of Thursday

    West Seattle Bridge Remains Open

    SDOT Has a Full Crew and More Responding to Snow

    Winter weather caught you off guard?

    WSDOT advises all drivers to check all traffic cameras before heading out

    Within the emails are links for more information, including one to the cleverly coined Take Winter By Storm website. Created "to help you get prepared and stay informed when bad weather strikes this winter," it's sponsored by a partnership of King County, the City of Seattle, Puget Sound Energy, State Farm Insurance, and QFC. Its topics include everything from weather forecasts and school closures to carbon monoxide fact sheets in a variety of languages. There's also information on roads and transit, flooding, public utilities, health and safety, human services, and landslides. And of course links to other government agencies and "other winter weather news sources" (newspapers, TV, blogs and wikis).

    You urban folks have it made. I went to my local newspaper's website early this morning and found a lone storyabout the snow, consisting of a 16-word sentence: "All schools in the South Whidbey School District will be closed on Thursday because of snow." Yup. That pretty much says it all.

    Sue Frause is a Whidbey Island freelance writer and photographer. You can reach her at sue@suefrause.com.

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