Freezing rain in areas of Western Washington shut down runways at Sea-Tac Airport, suspended public transportation, caused road and freeway closures and cut power to thousands amid icy conditions.
>>PHOTOS: Icy conditions on Puget Sound-area roads
After a quarter-inch or more of ice in many spots from the central Sound south and west, the slow thaw is beginning. Temperatures are above freezing as of 4 pm all the way to near Everett, but this does not mean that roads and sidewalks, etc., will not be icy into tonight. The thawing process will be a slow one. Most of the well traveled and treated roadways ought to be mainly fine, but still watch for icy spots into tonight.
>>Download the KIRO 7 Weather App for updates
8:20 p.m Snohomish PUD tweeted that its crews have been working in Gold Bar for most of the day with hopes of restoring power “later tonight or early tomorrow morning.” Snohomish PUD is reporting 2,885 total customers without power, while Puget Sound Energy has 6,327 customers in the dark.
7:20 p.m The National Weather Service Seattle said that Whatcom County could see freezing rain around midnight or shortly thereafter, with power outages possible as winds pick up.
6:40 p.m Snohomish PUD is reporting 3,104 customers without power. Puget Sound Energy is reporting 7,154 customers without power.
5:30 p.m Alaska Airlines announced over the loudspeaker at Sea-Tac Airport throughout the evening that most flights are canceled, rebooking would be possible in the next couple of days, and for anyone with a canceled flight who lives in the greater Seattle area to “go home. ”
5:30 p.m WSDOT said that SR 410 had reopened between Crystal Mountain and Enumclaw.
4:45pm WSDOT announced in an alert to subscribers that the final sailing out of Seattle on the Seattle/Bainbridge Island ferry route will be at 9:20 pm due to a shortage of crew and treacherous road conditions. The route will be out of service for the day after that sailing.
4:15pm WSDOT tweeted that both directions of SR 410 between Crystal Mountain and Enumclaw are closed due to a crash. Travelers leaving the ski area should expect a significant delay.
3:50 p.m Snohomish PUD is reporting 2,770 customers without power. Puget Sound Energy has 8,260 customers without power.
3:40 p.m A the second runway is now open at Sea-Tac Airport after being shut down earlier in the day.
2:30 p.m With road conditions beginning to improve in the Seattle metro area, WSDOT said it is no longer advising delaying non-essential travel in the region.
2:15pm King County Executive Dow Constantine tweeted that King County Metro will be back in service on its Emergency Snow Network starting at 4 pm
1:40 p.m Puget Sound Energy is reporting 9,681 customers without power and Snohomish PUD has 3,054 customers without power.
1:35pm WSDOT said there were multiple incidents happening on I-5 between Smith Road and Peace Portal near Ferndale. “While some areas are seeing improvements, travel remains challenging across parts of the region. If you don’t have to go out today, please don’t,” WSDOT North tweeted.
Noons: Ice buildup was .40″ in Silverdale, .30″ in SeaTac, .30″ in Issaquah, .25″ in University Place, and .25″ in Olympia.
11:44 am US Route 101 is closed in both directions near Hamma Hamma Rec Area Road due to trees down the road, according to WSDOT Tacoma.
11:24 am WSDOT continues to recommend that drivers delay all non-essential travel.
11:24 am Sea-Tac Airport said crews are continuing to keep one runway and adjoining taxiways clear. “We will work on more runways as the weather warms and improves. Please check with airlines!”
11:02 am US 2 remains fully closed between Gold Bar and Index due to fallen trees. Eastbound SR 18 at Issaquah-Hobart Road SE is also closed due to collisions and spinouts.
10:40 am Snohomish PUD said crews are encountering multiple power polishes and trees on the ground in Gold Bar.
10:38 am Due to the ongoing icy conditions, the I-5 Express Lanes in Seattle will be kept in the southbound direction through Saturday afternoon.
10:20 am Puget Sound Energy is reporting 13,562 customers are without power. Snohomish PUD has 5,554 and Seattle City Light has 353. There are also outages in the San Juan Islands, and Grays Harbor and Clallam counties.
10:07 am The Seattle Fire Department said crews are responding to a large number of calls across the city for slips and falls on ice on sidewalks, roadways and parking lots and advised people to stay inside if possible.
10am All Metro Transit services remain suspended due to icy conditions, including buses, water taxis, on-demand and the Seattle Streetcar. The next update will be at 2 pm
9:40 am Sound Transit Link trains are now running every ten minutes.
9:35 am Eastbound SR 18 is closed at Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast due to multiple collisions, spinouts and a jackknifed semi. WSDOT said the closure is expected to take multiple hours.
9:15am Seattle Public Utilities has canceled residential garbage, recycling and food waste collection. Tues, Wed, Thursday and Friday customers can set out double next week at no extra charge.
9:07 am Seattle Center Monorail service remains suspended.
8:58am The Washington State Department of Transportation said drivers should continue to delay all non-essential travel due to freezing rain still falling and icy conditions on roadways in wide area.
8:29am The Lower Spokane Street Bridge in Seattle has reopened.
8:28am “Sound Transit’s 1 Line is running with minor delays but it’s a skating rink to get to/from the stations! Stay put unless absolutely necessary until things start to thaw out.”
8:08 am All Kitsap Transit service remains canceled.
7:58am WSDOT’s Snoqualmie Pass Twitter account said drivers planning to cross I-90 should delay their trips, if possible. East of the summit there is drifting snow and poor visibility. West of the summit has freezing rain. There is heavy snow at the summit.
7:47am US 2 is closed between Gold Bar and Index due to downed trees, freezing rain and icy conditions.
The good news for the lowlands is temperatures will continue to warm slightly through the evening and tonight so no return to sub-freezing temperatures or any sort of refreezing of roadways. Near the mountains and in the passes, we will still have below freezing temperatures and of course, east of the crest will continue to remain in the icebox throughout the Christmas weekend.
Showers of rain will be around tonight in the lowlands but on Saturday, another weather system increases and moves in from the west. This will bring heavy rain to the lowlands, especially in the afternoon. This rainfall will serve to help melt snow and ice, but there is so much frozen stuff piled up in spots that water is likely to be blocked from draining, creating issues with urban flooding on roadways and flooding around homes where water will pool. Clear your storm drains and other drainages of snow and ice if possible before the heavy rain on Saturday.
Winds will also be on the increase Saturday and a Wind Advisory is up for Saturday for the coast and north/west of Everett where wind gusts over 40 mph will be common. Elsewhere, wind gusts of 30mph can be expected. There will also be abnormally high tides (for Seattle around 6 am and 4 pm Saturday) and we could see some tidal overwash and minor coastal flooding in locations susceptible to southerly/southwesterly winds.
In the passes, a half inch or more of ice in the form of freezing rain is expected through Saturday, so this is a particular danger and obstacle for pass travelers. In addition, snow will fall especially at Stevens Pass along with bouts of ice. Travelers should be aware that even though the thaw will really be on Saturday around the lowlands of Western Washington, traveling into the mountains and east will be very difficult Saturday and even into Christmas Day.
For Christmas in the lowlands, expect occasional rain showers but not the heavy rain of Saturday. Highs will be around 50.
Monday and Tuesday the following week, more heavy rain is ahead with an atmospheric river associated with a large low pressure system in the Pacific. Rivers will be on the rise and even the passes will have just rain early next week. The lowlands could receive 3-5 inches of rain by New Year’s weekend, with more in some upslope locations in the Cascades and Olympics.
Now that the thaw is on, wintry precipitation is in the rear view mirror for the lowlands of Western Washington for quite a while to come – at least through New Years.