Editor’s note: This story was last updated Sunday night, Jan. 12. If you’ve found your way to this story on Monday, Jan. 13, click here for the most recent coverage.
Weather forecasters still weren’t sure late Sunday whether most in the Seattle region would wake up to a dusting of snow or a few inches, as a shock of cold air closed in and football fans tried to shake off the chilly sting of the Seahawks’ loss in Green Bay.
In Snohomish County and Seattle’s northern suburbs, plenty of snow was falling Sunday night, with some places receiving several inches. Before 10 p.m., a KOMO weathercaster reported 5.5 inches in South Everett, 4 inches in Snohomish and 3.5 inches in Lake Stevens. In Seattle, the snow was just beginning.
Jacob DeFlitch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said earlier: “There is uncertainty how far south that snow makes it before it tapers.”
Stormy weather battered traffic in the mountain passes much of the weekend, and finally knocked Stevens Pass out on Sunday, when the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced on Twitter that the pass would not reopen until daylight Monday due to fallen trees and power lines. The hazardous conditions for crews left some travelers the unappealing options of hunkering down for the night near Skykomish or turning back east toward Leavenworth for a long night.
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The uncertainty in the forecast through Sunday left many children in eager anticipation. A snow day, perhaps? Seattle Public Schools in a news release Sunday evening said to plan for a routine school day, promising calls from a robot by 5 a.m. Monday with an update.
Meantime, King County Metro said it was preparing for possible snow reroutes and getting out the snow chains.
In Seattle, the city’s maintenance crews — people whose job typically includes filling potholes or fixing roads — were prepared to drive the city’s 60 plows, each equipped with “snow-fighting equipment,” said Ethan Bergerson, a spokesperson for Seattle Department of Transportation.
Not every road will be cleared: Narrow roads, steep roads, and roads with speed bumps or roundabouts won’t get any attention. “We’re not Minnesota. We don’t have the number of vehicles and plows to plow every road,” Bergerson said.
Drivers can expect roads on the city’s steepest hills to close if snow accumulates; buses will be rerouted to streets that are open and cleared. Hilly roads will stay closed as long as it’s unsafe to drive on them, Bergerson said.
For the latest King County transit snow-route information, visit www.metrowinter.com.
Snohomish County’s public works had readied 23,000 gallons of deicer, 9,500 tons of sand, 5,500 tons of sand mixed with salt and 925 tons of plain old salt for showtime, according to a news release.
The biggest concern for many was the cold weather expected to linger in Seattle until at least Wednesday, said Matthew Cullen, another weather service meteorologist. Temperatures were in the low 40s Sunday morning but were expected to drop below freezing overnight, Cullen said.
“It will be very, very cold and could be dangerous,” he said. Near downtown, temperatures will hover around 30 degrees into Monday, and there’s a chance of light flurries that day, Cullen said. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, temperatures in the city center will stay in the mid-20s. It’s unlikely to snow on those days, he said.
Near Snoqualmie Pass, road crews early Sunday prepared for a third day of major snowfall: 8 to 12 inches were expected, on top of an estimated 41 inches that had fallen over the previous 48 hours, according to state transportation officials.
Early in the day, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) tweeted about multiple spinouts near the pass; eastbound Interstate 90 there was shut down around 8 a.m. and reopened before noon.
Along with the snow came hype among skiers and other outdoor athletes, including many who’d awaited the fresh powder after a slow start to the skiing season. The hopes of some were dashed: Dozens of people traveling to Crystal Mountain Resort, about 85 miles southeast of Seattle, took to Twitter on Saturday after being turned away when parking lots filled up early in the morning.
Some reported that traffic was backed up for hours, and later that day, resort officials posted a letter of apology.