“Snow” getting around it: this storm is one for the record books

According to Seattle Weather Blog, humans had not yet walked on the Moon the last time our area saw so much snow in one month. So far, 20.2 inches of snow has fallen at Sea-Tac Airport, making it the snowiest February on record there. February 2019 will definitely go down as one of the top ten snowiest months ever in our region – where it ultimately ends up on the list depends on how the next 16 days shake out.

Watch, warning, and advisory map courtesy NWS. Click to enlarge

A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. tonight for the Cascades. One to three feet of snow is expected, which will make travel difficult to impossible through Snoqualmie and Stevens passes. Foothill areas above 500 feet will see a couple inches of new snow this morning through noon. Meanwhile, the lowlands should get a break from snow today as temperatures have warmed enough for precipitation to change over to rain and melting to begin. However, that has led to a new concern: flooding. The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Urban and Small Stream Flood Warning for western King County effective until 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Rainfall combined with snowmelt will cause flooding of highways, streets, and underpasses as well as drainage channels and low-lying spots. Drivers should be alert to standing water on roadways and be prepared for possible road closures.

King County agencies

Even though the snowfall has tapered off in the lowlands, there’s still plenty of the “white stuff” on the ground causing problems. Most King County agencies and service counters will be open normal hours today, with the following exceptions:

  • Superior Court is operating on a reduced schedule. For more information, visit the Superior Court website.
  • District Court is closed.
  • County Council opens at 10:30 a.m. The Budget and Fiscal Management Committee meeting has been canceled, while the Law and Justice Committee will meet at 1 p.m.
  • Department of Assessments opens at 10:30 a.m.
  • Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is closed.

Today’s special election will go on as scheduled, with ballot drop boxes closing at 8 p.m. Ballots must be in the drop boxes by that time, or postmarked no later than today. There will be no extension. Per the Secretary of State, electronic return of ballots is limited to overseas and service voters. King County Elections is happy to discuss options for those who are snowbound. Call 206-296-8683 (VOTE) or visit kingcounty.gov/elections for information.

Transit and transportation

King County Metro Transit remains on Emergency Snow Network today. Bus service will be limited to selected core routes and shuttles, with little or no service in some areas of the county. Metro plans to restore most service starting at 4 a.m. Feb. 13. See MetroWinter.com or follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for updates.

King County Water Taxi will return to its normal reduced winter schedule on both the West Seattle and Vashon runs.

Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail and Sounder commuter rail are running as close to schedule as the weather allows. Service alerts are available at SoundTransit.org.

Highways and roads in the region continue to be messy. Crews from King County Roads, WSDOT, and regional cities are still working around-the-clock to plow and treat streets. However, there are quite a few roads that are still snow-packed. Take it easy while driving, and don’t make any unnecessary trips. Also, if you see standing water on a roadway, don’t risk it – find an alternate route. Turn around, don’t drown!

With very heavy snow expected in the Cascades through this afternoon, Snoqualmie and Stevens passes may be restricted or closed. Check @wsdot_passes on Twitter for the latest information.

Health and safety

Heavy, wet snow has caused numerous power outages in our region. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Puget Sound Energy reports 68,000 customers without electricity in its western Washington service area, and Seattle City Light has a little over 11,000 without power. Know what to do when the lights go dark, and stay away from downed power lines!

With power outages come concerns about carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This colorless, odorless gas is created whenever a fuel is burned, so never cook or heat inside with a charcoal or gas grill. CO can kill you. Public Health – Seattle and King County has information on preventing CO poisoning, available in multiple languages.

The cold has also led to increased concern about frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Watch for symptoms such as slurred speech, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness, and body temperature of 95° F or less. Get medical help immediately if you think someone has frostbite or hypothermia
  • Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm up with a blanket or warm fluids like hot herbal tea or soup. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages if you think you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite
What you can do

With some melting now going on, please keep storm drains in your neighborhood clear of snow, ice, and other debris. Do not block storm drains with snow from your driveway or sidewalk. Never remove a storm drain lid or attempt to clean a drain located in a busy street.

With many people using fireplaces or space heaters to ward off the chill, incidents of household fires tend to rise. Clear away any snow and ice around fire hydrants in your neighborhood so that firefighters can reach them if needed. The home you save may be your own!

Some people, especially those who are older or who have access and functional needs, have not been able to leave their homes for days. As you’re able and willing, check on your friends, relatives, and neighbors to make sure they’re okay and see if they need any assistance.