King County Metro says buses in steep areas will remain on snow routes. Metro hopes to return to full service Friday, and riders should check for updates before commuting and allow an extra 30 to 60 minutes.
As the Puget Sound region begins to recover from record-breaking snow, residents continue to face power outages, school cancellations and travel troubles.
Snow showers turned into rain across the region Monday night, which signaled the end of the worst of the snow but also brought its own problems. Wet, heavy snow and rain brought down trees and power lines, leading to significant power outages that continued into Tuesday.
The region may not be completely in the clear yet. There could be snow showers on Thursday, particularly in higher elevations, which may also see scattered showers before then, said meteorologist Mike McFarland with the National Weather Service in Seattle.
“It’s not likely to be a repeat of this storm,” McFarland said. “But don’t put the snow shovels away yet, just in case.”
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The weather service will have a better picture of what’s coming Wednesday, he said. It’s possible there won’t be enough precipitation to pull snow down to lower elevations, McFarland said, meaning “all of the drama might miss us.” More snow is likely for Whatcom County, though, as well as the Olympic Peninsula and foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
In the meantime, the Puget Sound continues to recover from the storm and freezing temperatures that have been blamed in the deaths of four people in King County.
King County Metro, which has been operating on an emergency snow plan, announced it will operate about 90 percent of normal bus routes starting Wednesday morning. Buses in steep areas will remain on snow routes, and Metro hopes to return to full service Friday.
Riders should check for updates before commuting Wednesday and allow an extra 30 to 60 minutes, said Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer. Updates can be found on www.metrowinter.com, where riders can sign up for alerts.
There were 270 delays and 147 cancellations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday as of 9 p.m., according to FlightAware.
Seattle schools will be closed Wednesday, as will those in the Bellevue, Bellingham, Bremerton, Clover Park, Edmonds, Everett, Federal Way, Highline, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Washington, Olympia, Shoreline, Snohomish, Renton and Tacoma school districts. The University of Washington will resume normal operations at 9:30 a.m. at all of its campuses.
More than 4,000 Seattle City Light customers were affected by an outage that lasted four hours Tuesday evening. While power was restored to most customers there by 8:30 p.m., many Puget Sound residents were still without power. Outages affected 740 Seattle City Light customers and around 28,000 Puget Sound Energy customers at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Many were blamed on falling trees and limbs.
[Related: What to do if the power goes out]
Garbage and recycling pickup was canceled again throughout the Puget Sound region, and some sidewalks and side roads remain slippery and slushy. In Seattle, property owners are responsible for clearing and maintaining sidewalks. Officials also have urged residents to clear storm drains to prevent street flooding and to clear 3 feet around fire hydrants.
Waste collection will resume in Seattle on Wednesday as long as weather permits, according to Seattle Public Utilities. Residents can help make collection easier by removing snow from around waste cans and if needed, moving them to areas more accessible for trucks.
Early Tuesday during the storm, an equipment malfunction at a King County pump station in Bellevue sent up to 750,000 gallons of wastewater into Lake Washington, according to the county’s wastewater-treatment division. The county is monitoring water quality and has posted signs warning people to avoid contact with the water over the next several days.
Officials also have warned of the possibility of landslides, as more than 20,000 properties in Seattle are in areas prone to them. Those areas are at greater risk as rain falls on top of melting snow, which can add weight and cause slides. More information from the City of Seattle is available online.
As the worst of the storm retreats, officials are continuing to uncover the deaths in its wake.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office reported another death from exposure Tuesday, the fourth hypothermia-related death recorded by the office since the start of the cold snap.
Barbara Arvidson, 74, died Sunday in Enumclaw from hypothermia brought on by exposure.
Her death came after that of Derek C. Johnson, 59, who was found by a light-rail operator at the Sodo light-rail station in Seattle on Feb. 7. He had no permanent address, authorities say.
A vigil will be held outside of Seattle City Hall on Wednesday for Johnson and others without homes who have recently died, organized by the Women in Black of WHEEL, the Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League.
Stanley Little, 84, was found dead from apparent hypothermia inside his Fall City home by his son last Thursday, according to King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott.
Carl Soderberg, 53, was found dead outside a neighbor’s home Saturday. Investigators believe he was checking on his elderly neighbors when he succumbed to the cold, Abbott said.
Emergency-shelter operations have expanded as shelters neared or exceeded capacity since the freezing temperatures began. The Seattle Center cold-weather shelter, which has capacity for 100 people per night, has seen an average of 151 people per night for the past week. On Monday, 229 people stayed at the shelter, according to the Salvation Army.
Seattle Times staff reporters Mike Lindblom, Paige Cornwell, Vernal Coleman and Michelle Baruchman contributed to this story.