Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from the Puget Sound region’s snowy Tuesday. An recap and outlook for the rest of the week is available here.
A second night of snow and freezing temperatures closed schools and caused slippery commutes in the Puget Sound region — and more snow arrived at night.
A “band of heavy snow” began to move into the region around 7 p.m. Tuesday from the Olympic Peninsula. Snowfall should ramp up across the Seattle area until the band moves north of the city, which the weather service estimates will happen by midnight or 1 a.m.
Areas to the north of downtown Seattle may see a few more inches accumulate overnight, while heavier snowfall is expected to the north and in the Cascade foothills, according to the weather service. South King County and Pierce County likely won’t see much snow.
Here’s what you need to know about the weather. And if the snow has inspired you to pick up your camera, you can share photos with us here.
- Mountain passes
- Trash, recycling, compost and yard waste pickup
- Power outages
- More help navigating the snow and its possible effects
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The weather service issued a winter storm warming early Tuesday for an unexpected system that hit the area that night. This second system — a stalled frontal boundary that will lift northward — came in the form of a band of heavy snow over the Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound, according to the weather service.
the forecast has changed “significantly” from Monday, when the National Weather Service in Seattle predicted the region could see more snow on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a widespread round of light to moderate snowfall with some heavier bands, which are going to be very narrow ,” said weather service meteorologist Carly Kovacik. “Some people are probably going to see not very much snow at all, but others may see quite a bit.”
The weather service said Tuesday evening that areas north of downtown Seattle would see the most snow, from 1 to 3 inches, while areas to the south would likely only see a dusting to an inch.
Some areas, especially those north of Seattle, could see up to 6 inches, depending on where the band is positioned. Snohomish County should see several more inches of snow, as well as Skagit and Whatcom counties.
Refreezing is possible Tuesday night, as temps are expected fall into the upper 20s, which could bring hazardous road conditions Wednesday morning.
Another system may bring a few more inches of snow to the region Wednesday afternoon into Thursday evening, but easterly winds could dry things out and increase temperatures, meaning the lowlands might not see significant snow, Kovacik said.
Winds are expected to pick up overnight Tuesday and Wednesday, with gusts up to 30 mph. The Cascades and foothills will likely see stronger winds starting Wednesday afternoon, with gusts 45 to 60 mph. The wind is expected to subside Thursday and temperatures should begin to warm that afternoon. Temps on Friday are expected to reach 40 degrees, bringing the possibility of flooding this weekend.
High winds come with a risk of tree damage, power outages, hazardous crosswinds, dangerous marine conditions and possible blowing or drifting snow, the weather service warned. Wind can also make low temperatures feel even lower.
Seattle Public Schools will be closed Wednesday, the district announced Tuesday night. The school district delayed classes and canceled dozens of bus routes Tuesday, while most other King County school districts, including Shoreline, simply closed.
In Snohomish County, districts that canceled classes Tuesday include Edmonds, Everett, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Mukilteo and Snohomish.
Several colleges around the region delayed classes Tuesday. Bellevue College closed its main and north campuses, according to FlashAlert, which tracks most schools and districts in the region. UW Bothell also canceled classes Tuesday.
The Seattle Department of Transportation had about 70 people working overnight, plowing and treating city arterials, while the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) had an additional 50 plows in the region, officials said at a news conference Tuesday, adding that higher elevations and roads farther from Puget Sound continue to pose challenges.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan urged people to stay off the roads but also said if people have to drive, they should leave plenty of room in front of them and slow down. And she reminded homeowners that it is their responsibility to shovel the sidewalks in front of their property.
Metro began to pull more of its 60-foot articulated buses, which struggle on slick roads, out of service, which will further slow down commutes, said Terry White, the transit agency’s deputy general manager. Metro riders should wait at the bottom of hills rather than at uphill stops, White said. You can check for the latest updates on your Metro route at metrowinter.com.
Not every Seattle road is cleared when it snows: Narrow roads, steep roads and roads with speed bumps or roundabouts won’t get any attention, and roads on the steepest hills will stay closed as long as it’s unsafe to drive on them, Ethan Bergerson, a spokesperson for Seattle Department of Transportation, said Sunday.
Westbound lanes of the Highway 520 floating bridge reopened around 10 p.m. Monday after about 30 vehicles crashed on the slippery roadway Monday evening. WSDOT crews treated the bridge with salt and sand Monday afternoon and again after the crashes, according to an agency spokeswoman.
WSDOT continued to treat Highway 520 and Interstate 90 Tuesday, but advised drivers to slow down on overpasses and bridges, which freeze first.
A 24-year-old Lake Tapps woman died in Federal Way around 10 p.m. Monday when road conditions caused her car to slide off Interstate 5, plummet down an embankment and hit a tree.
Since Sunday night, Washington State Patrol troopers have responded to almost 200 collisions in King County alone, Trooper Rick Johnson tweeted. Reports of crashes abounded across the region’s roadways early Tuesday. Check traffic before you go.
Highway 2 remained closed Tuesday evening between Gold Bar and Stevens Pass, after closing Sunday and leaving some drivers stranded. The State Patrol was escorting residents to Index but stopped doing so late Tuesday morning because of falling trees and hazardous conditions.
Westbound I-90 was closed for hours Tuesday morning due to a jackknifed semi truck, according to WSDOT’s Snoqualmie Pass Twitter account. Eastbound lanes closed near Snoqualmie Pass for about an hour after multiple spinouts around 3 p.m. Snow fell hard Tuesday morning at the pass, leaving compact snow and ice on the road. Chains were required on all vehicles except those with four-wheel drive, and oversized vehicles were prohibited, as of Tuesday afternoon.
Snowplow operators at Snoqualmie Pass said at noon Tuesday that while the pass is open it is snowing heavily, with whiteout conditions, and drivers are crashing because they can’t see. According to WSDOT, 66 inches of snow have fallen at the pass since Friday.
Trash, recycling, compost and yard-waste pickup
Some Seattle neighborhoods didn’t get garbage, recycling or compost pickup Tuesday, including Fauntleroy and Delridge in Southwest Seattle, Ballard in Northwest Seattle, and certain steep blocks in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Maple Leaf and Wedgwood.
If your scheduled pickup didn’t happen Tuesday, leave your bins out to be collected Wednesday. If they’re not picked up by the end of the day Wednesday, they won’t be until your next regularly scheduled pickup day (Tuesday of next week).
“Customers who may be missed this week will be allowed to set out double their normal amount of garbage, recycling and yard waste at no additional charge, on their next scheduled collection day,” according to Seattle Public Utilities.
Waste Management, which serves numerous areas in Western Washington including Kitsap and Snohomish counties, postponed residential pickup and will continue to evaluate conditions through the week, according to spokesperson Jackie Lang. For updates in your service area, see wmnorthwest.com.
Republic Services also suspended all its pickup routes Tuesday in King and Snohomish counties.
As of 5 p.m., Puget Sound Energy reported scattered outages affecting more than 1,500 households. Seattle City Light reported four outages affecting about 100 customers.
But city officials urged residents to prepare for the possibility of more 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.
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.
A fire started in a Sultan home Monday after clothes drying near a wood stove ignited, and an 8-year-old girl died. Snohomish County fire officials said they were hampered by heavy snow and fallen trees on the way to the remote home.
The city of Seattle is operating a severe weather shelter at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall. On Tuesday, the Bitter Lake Community Center opened a shelter with 70 additional beds. The city also extended hours at its City Hall shelter, where 170 people stayed Monday night, city officials said. The King County Administration Building has also opened as a severe weather shelter.
Jason Johnson, director of the city’s Human Services Department, said that about 350 people stayed at the three emergency shelters Monday night.
“No one was nor will be turned away,” Johnson said, saying they have the capacity to shelter about 600 people on the City Hall campus and in community centers.
Mayor Jenny Durkan urged people to call 211 if they see someone outdoors who they think needs help getting inside.
There are also daytime warming centers at the Seattle Center armory, at libraries and at the Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall, Johnson said.
Seattle’s Navigation Team, a group of police officers and outreach workers, is deploying across the city to get people inside. It’s focusing on areas where large numbers of people typically camp outside, like along the Interstate 90 corridor in South Seattle.
“Our primary focus is outreach, outreach, outreach,” Human Services Department spokesperson Will Lemke said Monday.
The Navigation Team will also pause its usual schedule of homeless encampment cleanups, Lemke said, unless a tent or structure is completely blocking the sidewalk downtown or causing accessibility issues for people in wheelchairs.
More help navigating the snow and its possible effects
- Driving in the snow can be a Northwest nightmare. Know how to do it safely.
- Who’s responsible for clearing that snow and ice off the sidewalks? You, most likely.
- Will your street be plowed? Here’s how Seattle road crews decide which ones to clear.
- If the power is out, here’s what you should do.
- The continued cold temperatures could be dangerous for anyone living outside. Here’s an updated map showing where to find winter homeless shelters and the best way to offer help if you see someone who may need it.
- Keep your pets safe by taking these steps.
- Now for the fun part! Here’s where to ski and sled in Seattle.
Got a question you don’t see answered yet? Ask it here.
Seattle Times Project Homeless reporter Sydney Brownstone and engagement editor Anna Patrick contributed to this report, as did morning news desk chief Kris Gilroy Higginson and assistant metro editor Gina Cole.