The snow hasn’t yet let up over the Puget Sound region, where commuters will likely face icy roads Wednesday morning. But the National Weather Service has good news for those tired of the flakes: They should be gone soon.
Since snow began falling Sunday night, the weather service’s Seattle office in Sand Point received 3.8 inches of snow as of Tuesday afternoon, with an additional 1 to 3 inches expected by Wednesday morning. Another system is expected Wednesday afternoon, but warmer easterly winds could prevent the lowlands from seeing significant snow, said weather service meteorologist Carly Kovacik.
Winds were expected to pick up overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday in the Seattle area, with gusts up to 36 mph, and much stronger winds are likely in the Cascade foothills starting Wednesday. The wind will bring increased risk of tree damage, power outages and blowing snow, but should subside Thursday.
Officials urged residents to prepare for the possibility of widespread outages by stocking up on blankets, flashlights and batteries. If you see downed power lines, stay at least 30 feet away and call 911, officials said.
As meteorologists have been challenged by changing conditions, including the unexpected system that brought snow Tuesday night, one part of the forecast has remained the same: Temperatures will climb into the 40s Friday into the weekend. While the shift will mean no more snow, it will also bring potential for flooding as the snow melts and rain falls.
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Overnight refreezing is likely until then, meaning drivers may face icy roads Wednesday and Thursday morning. In recognition of the cold nights and an increase in shelter stays by homeless people, additional capacity was added across the region. The city of Seattle more than doubled its severe-weather shelter capacity Tuesday by opening shelters at Bitter Lake and the Seattle Municipal Tower.
In King County, information about shelters is available by calling 211 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Outside of that time, people can call King County’s Crisis Line at 866-427-4747.
Low temperatures and icy roads caused disruptions in the region Tuesday. Some Puget Sound residents went without garbage, recycling and compost pickups because of the snow. (Those who were skipped should leave their bins out Wednesday.)
Seattle Public Schools canceled classes Wednesday. On Tuesday, the school district delayed classes and canceled bus routes and after-school activities, while most other King and Snohomish county school districts canceled classes, according to FlashAlert, which tracks most schools and districts in the region. Some colleges, including Seattle University and South Seattle College, decided to close campus early.
As of Tuesday evening, King County Metro buses on snow routes were largely in north and east King County. Metro said Tuesday it would be watching what unfolded that evening. You can check for the latest updates on your Metro route at metrowinter.com.
City and state transportation crews continued to plow and treat arterials and highways, but warned drivers to be careful, especially on overpasses and bridges. From Sunday night to Tuesday morning, Washington State Patrol said troopers responded to almost 200 collisions in King County alone.
In Federal Way, a 24-year-old Lake Tapps woman died around 10 p.m. Monday when road conditions caused her car to slide off Interstate 5, plummet down an embankment and hit a tree.
An 8-year-old girl was killed when a fire started in a Sultan home Monday after clothes drying near a wood stove ignited. Snohomish County fire officials said they were hampered by heavy snow and fallen trees on the way to the remote home.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins reminded people that space heaters should be plugged directly into walls, not into extension cords, to avoid overloading electrical circuits. There should be no flammable materials within 3 feet of a space heater, Scoggins said. People should also check their carbon-monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and should never use grills or generators indoors.
Highway 2 remained closed between Gold Bar and Stevens Pass Tuesday night, after closing Sunday.
Parts of Interstate 90 closed throughout the day Tuesday after multiple cars spun out and a semitruck jackknifed. Snow fell hard Tuesday on Snoqualmie Pass, which has received around 70 inches of snow since Friday.
Seattle Times staff Sydney Brownstone, Gina Cole, David Gutman, Kris Higginson and Anna Patrick contributed to this story.