Editor’s note: This is a live account of snow storm updates from Friday, Feb. 12, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated.
Western Washington’s much-anticipated snow storm is finally here, which meteorologists have said could leave more than a foot of snow in Olympia and 4 to 6 inches in Seattle this weekend.
Snowflakes aren’t expected to start accumulating significantly until around 10 p.m. Friday, and will then continue through the night, according to the National Weather Service’s Seattle office.
State and local transportation officials, including in Seattle and Bellevue, are in the process of salting and plowing the streets — and are asking residents to help out by shoveling sidewalks and moving their cars off arterial streets.
We’re updating this page with the latest news about the snow storm and how it’ll impact traffic conditions, road closures and public safety in Seattle and throughout Washington state.
Before cold weather
- Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing—typically those near outer walls in crawl spaces or in the attic. Insulation made for this purpose is available at hardware stores.
- Wrap the pipes in UL-approved heat tape.
- Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
- Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
When the weather gets cold
- Let cold water trickle at night from the faucet farthest from the hot water tank.
- Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks.
- Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees. If you plan to be away, have someone check the house daily to make sure the heat is still on.
If the pipes freeze
- Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water in case the pipes burst.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
- Always be careful of the potential for electrical shock in and around standing water.
- Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.
12 inches in Yelm, 1 in Seattle; watch the snow reports roll in
Twelve inches of snow since Thursday in Yelm, 6 in Graham, 1 in Seattle, .25 in West Seattle, according to social media and reports rolling in to the National Weather Service of Seattle on Friday night as snow becomes more widespread through the Puget Sound region.
It's been snowing steadily in the South Sound since Thursday from round one of two snowstorms in two days. The second round of snow finally arrived in Seattle around 6 p.m. Friday.
Snow arrives at SeaTac, Bremerton, Bellevue and beyond
The long-awaited snow is spreading across the Sound and has reached Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where the record for the date is .2 inches in 1995, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.
"So, we've got over 5 hours to beat that," NWS quipped on Twitter.
Heavier snow is falling in the South Sound while flurries and flakes are being reported in Bellevue, Bremerton and West Seattle.
In Maple Valley, they're still waiting, according to Twitter snow reports.
Winter tips to keep pets safe
If it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s probably too cold for your pet as well.
Pets are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite just like people. Get your pet to a vet if it is shivering, disoriented and lethargic or if its hair is puffed out and standing on end.
Be careful with antifreeze. Don't ever dump it on the ground; it can be fatal to pets even in small amounts. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include drunk-like behavior, vomiting, excessive urination, drinking and depression.
Keep your dog leashed in the snow and make sure it has an ID tag. Dogs can lose scents in snow and get lost.
How to measure snow correctly
Waiting around for the snow to start or already watching it fall?
Here are some tips from the National Weather Service in Seattle on how to correctly measure snow should you feel the urge at some point:
- Find a flat place to measure that does not have drifts of snow or melting areas.
- If you already have snow on the ground, clear off a patch completely and start over.
- Slide a ruler into the snow until it touches the ground.
- Read the ruler to the nearest tenth of an inch.
- Send in your report on Twitter to @NWSSeattle with the hashtag #wawx.
Road crews prepare their plows for Puget Sound snowfall
Road-maintenance workers are scheduled to salt and plow 24 hours a day, as travelers in the lowland Puget Sound region brace for a rare and possible heavy snowstorm.
Crews can’t be everywhere, so officials call on the public to shovel sidewalks, move their parked cars off arterial streets to help with plowing, and stay home.
“To all the people who moved here in the last few years, and think you’re a great driver in the snow, you’re not,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan declared. “Seattle hills are notoriously difficult, in particular when the snow melts and then freezes.”
The National Weather Service forecast calls for perhaps 1 inch of snow Thursday, before the main snowstorm that could drop 4 to 6 inches Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. However, there’s a 20% chance of more than 8 inches accumulating.
It all hinges on where cold Arctic air from Canada collides with wet Pacific air over Washington state.
At least 3-6 inches of snow forecast for Seattle area Friday to Saturday
Disappointed with the light snow that fell on much of the Puget Sound on Thursday. Sad there’s not more where you live?
Just wait, says the National Weather Service of Seattle.
Light snow started falling in the Seattle area Thursday, with greater accumulations south of the Puget Sound and on the Olympic Peninsula, said weather service meteorologist Courtney Carpenter. Areas of south of Olympia had received the most snow by early evening, with about 2 to 5 inches, she said.
But more is definitely on the way along with some gusty winds in western Whatcom County and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca that help set the stage for a winter storm.
Seattle opens two more severe-weather shelters as snow falls and temperatures drop
As downtown Seattle started to see flurries of snow Thursday, the city announced that it will be opening two community centers as 24-hour severe-weather shelters for people living outside.
Those will bring the city total up to 164 as temperatures are expected to drop below freezing in the first winter weather emergency of the year.
Along with 78 shelter spaces that opened Tuesday night at Fisher Pavilion, 305 Harrison St., the city will be opening more beds from Thursday night through Monday morning. Forty-five will be at Bitter Lake Community Center, 13035 Linden Ave N., and 41 spaces at Garfield Community Center, 2323 E. Cherry St.
The nonprofit homeless-services organization Low Income Housing Institute will run both community center shelters with support from city staff, and Operation Sack Lunch, nonprofit homeless-meal service, will provide daily meals.
An estimated 11,751 people live homeless in King County, with more than 5,500 people living in cars, tents or other places not designed for human habitation. Last year, six people presumed to be homeless by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office died of causes involving hypothermia.
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