Freezing temperatures and back-to-back snowstorms caused havoc in the region, as flights and school days were canceled, some residents lost power, blood supplies dropped and at least three King County residents died from exposure.
Snow showers began to transition to rain in the Puget Sound region Monday evening, a sign that the snow may be on its way out as temperatures were expected to continue to warm, according to the National Weather Service.
Freezing temperatures and back-to-back snowstorms have caused havoc in the region, as flights and school days were canceled, some residents lost power, blood supplies dropped and at least three King County residents died from exposure.
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Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has seen more than 19 inches of snow so far this month, making it the snowiest month in 50 years, according to the National Weather Service. The Seattle area was under a winter weather advisory until 4 a.m. Tuesday because of rain mixed with snow. But the heavy snow should be on its way out, meteorologist Logan Johnson said.
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As warm air moved north in Western Washington on Monday afternoon, snow showers began to change to rain. Showers could switch between rain and snow as temperatures warm, but rain should return to Seattle on Wednesday night, Logan said. The switch to rain was only expected to go as far north as Everett; snow was expected to continue farther north, Johnson said.
The change in Seattle should bring welcome relief and help clear icy roads, Johnson said. But the region could also be in for street flooding, especially in areas where storm drains are blocked by snow.
At a Monday news conference, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city anticipates mudslides, a problem that historically arises after snow and ice melt. Officials are asking residents to clear their storm drains. Property owners in Seattle are also responsible for maintaining sidewalks adjacent to their property.
The region could see more snow Wednesday, but if it does come, it will be mixed with rain, Johnson said.
“There’s a chance of mixed rain and snow, but it won’t be anything like what we’ve seen the past few days,” Johnson said.
King County Metro will continue to operate only 60 core routes until at least Tuesday night. Information on the routes can be found online. Link light rail is operating on its regular schedule, as is Sounder commuter rail, with some delays, according to Sound Transit.
At Sea-Tac Airport, 345 flights were canceled and 245 were delayed as of 5 p.m. Monday, according to FlightAware. Cancellations continued Tuesday. Some airlines, including Alaska, Delta and American, continue to offer flexible travel policies for customers flying to, from or through Sea-Tac who want to change or cancel their flights with no additional fees.
The snow also led the state Legislature to cancel committee meetings Monday, and many schools were closed. Some school districts also announced Tuesday closures. Seattle Public Schools will be closed, and district headquarters will have limited services, a spokesman said. The University of Washington and Seattle Colleges canceled Tuesday classes at all of their campuses
Bellevue, Bellingham, Edmonds, Federal Way, Highline, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Renton, Shoreline, Snohomish and Tacoma are among school districts that also announced closures.
For the second week, the weather prevented collection of garbage, recycling, and food and yard waste in Seattle. Waste wasn’t picked up Monday and won’t be picked up Tuesday. Customers whose pickup days were skipped can set out additional bags at no extra charge, according to Seattle Public Utilities. If icy conditions prevent pickup, Monday customers will be prioritized when service resumes.
The wet and heavy snow broke branches and brought down power lines Monday night. As of 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, outages affected about 10,900 Seattle City Light customers and about 72,400 Puget Sound Energy customers.
The weather has led to canceled appointments with Bloodworks Northwest, which was down to a one-day supply of blood on Monday, according to a statement.
Frigid temperatures have also proved fatal, as the death toll plaguing the Puget Sound region continues to climb.
Carl Soderberg, 53, died from exposure Saturday in Maple Valley. Stanley Little, 84, died from environmental exposure in Fall City last Thursday.
Theirs were the second and third hypothermia-related deaths reported by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office since the temperatures began to drop last week.
The first, Derek C. Johnson, died from exposure at the Sodo light-rail station in Seattle on Feb. 7. Johnson, 59, was found by a light-rail train operator near the platform. He had no permanent address.
A second person may have died in Seattle from exposure, Durkan said at the Monday news conference.
But it’s not yet clear if that person died from hypothermia. Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the mayor was referring to a 37-year-old, lightly clothed woman found dead shortly after midnight Sunday, in a boardinghouse on Capitol Hill, at 500 10th Ave. E. The woman had been drinking, the sergeant said.
If you’re homeless or without power, here’s where you can go for shelter.
To report downed power lines
Seattle Public Utilities: 206-684-3000
If sparking or smoking, call 911
Seattle City Light
Report an outage: 206-684-3000
To report hazardous sidewalks and roads
Seattle’s Find It, Fix It app
Seattle Times staff reporters Paige Cornwell, Mike Lindblom, Vernal Coleman and Vianna Davila contributed to this story.