Author Archive: jickcoem

Winter Storm Warning for Cascades

Courtesy NWS, click to enlarge

Heading east through the Cascades today? Be prepared for some tricky travel.

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Winter Storm Warning, effective until 6 a.m. Wednesday, February 20 for the higher elevations of eastern King County including Snoqualmie and Stevens passes. Total snow accumulations of eight to 18 inches can be expected with this storm. Snow levels will start low, around 500 to 1,000 feet, before lifting this afternoon. There is a chance a convergence zone could form in northern King County late tonight, dropping an inch or two of snow in the lowlands by Wednesday morning.

A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Be prepared for road closures, and have chains or traction tires for your car.

Stay up to date on the latest forecast at weather.gov/seattle.

24-Hour Hotline No Longer Operating

As conditions continue to improve in areas hardest hit by recent snowstorms, King County’s 24-hour assistance call center is no longer operating.

If you have a concern about street access, please call the Road Services Division’s 24-hour hotline at 206-477-8100. If you need help with a personal or family crisis, please call the Crisis Connections hotline at 866-427-4747. As always, in an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Landslide Hazards

The threat of landslides for Western Washington lowlands below 1,500 feet continues through Sunday.

Precipitation combined with melting snow has saturated the soil, and has increased the threat for landslides at elevations below 1,500 feet. The threat will decrease Sunday through Monday as drier, cooler air moves into our area.

For more information about current landslide conditions, check the U.S. Geological Survey’s recent conditions for the Seattle area.

For more information about landslide hazards, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has more information about how to recognize and respond to landslides.

Looking Ahead

King County transportation and emergency management staff will continue to monitor conditions for the week ahead.

National Weather Service 5-Day Outlook

National Weather Service 5-Day Outlook

Expect showery weather to continue through the evening of Sunday, Feb. 17, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Expect sunny and cool conditions Monday, Feb. 18, with morning lows in the low 20s to the low 30s. Icy spots are possible on roadways for the morning commute; please drive for conditions.

The next system arrives Tuesday, Feb. 19, bringing the possibility of lowland snow, which continues into Wednesday, Feb. 20, with total amounts ranging from a trace to 3 inches possible by Wednesday.

Get your localized forecast at weather.gov/seattle.

High avalanche danger this weekend

The King County Sheriff’s Office is warning everyone of a high avalanche danger in the Cascade Mountains due to record snow fall.

If you are planning a trip to the mountains this weekend, check the weather forecast prior to your trip. Better yet, delay your trip if possible. If you do go, follow these important safety guidelines:

  • Always remember to tell someone where you are going and when you will return so they can call for help if you are overdue.
  • Carry the 10 essentials: navigation, headlamp, sun/weather protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes.

It’s important to also consider that, due to snow conditions, emergency response may be delayed.

Avalanches occur when a snow pack loses its grip on a slope and slides downhill. Typically, slopes between 20 to 30 degrees and snow packs of 34 inches or more may produce avalanches. Uninhabited alpine areas in the Cascades north and south of I-90 experience hundreds of avalanches annually. People most at risk are travelers and winter recreation enthusiasts using Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, and Crystal Mountain Ski Area near Chinook Pass. Injuries to recreational hikers, skiers, snowboarders, and climbers usually occur outside managed areas.

King County Emergency Management offers avalanche hazard information and safety tips:

  • Check out area avalanche conditions before you venture out.
  • Plan your trip and pack appropriate equipment and supplies for current weather conditions.
  • Complete a hike itinerary form and give it to friends and family so they know where you are going, what route you will be taking, and when you expect to return.
  • Understand and adhere to wilderness safety tips.
  • Keep an updated emergency supply kit in your vehicle.
  • Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your vehicle at all times. You could be delayed for long periods of time, or have to reroute, if a pass is temporarily closed for avalanche control.

Check out Washington Trails Association for additional recommendations and resources.

Getting back to normal after major snowstorm, but challenges remain

As temperatures rise and precipitation turns to rain, King County emergency responders are still working to get things back to normal from our recent snowstorms. Despite the break in the weather, residents in east King County continue to deal with two or more feet of snow accumulation. Entire neighborhoods in communities like Duvall, North Bend, and Carnation have little or no access from their private property to main arterials.

Snow response

People with non-emergency, yet urgent food, water, fuel, or medical transport needs can call King County’s temporary hotline (206-296-3830) for help. Personnel at the Emergency Coordination Center will continue to respond through the weekend. For life-threatening emergencies, always call 9-1-1.

Residents in need of severe weather shelter can find a list of locations online through Crisis Connections or by calling 2-1-1.

Weather hazards

The National Weather Service in Seattle is warning of an increased risk of landslides. As melting snow and rainfall seeps into the ground, soil and rocks could begin to move or slide. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has more information about how to recognize and respond to landslides.

There is also an increased risk of urban and local flooding. Help prevent flooding by locating and clearing storm drain grates in your neighborhood.

Courtesy NWS, click to enlarge

Overnight temperatures are still falling below freezing in many spots, which causes snowmelt to refreeze as black ice on roadways. Take it easy when driving and watch your speed, especially on less-traveled roads.

Looking ahead to next week, the National Weather Service is alert to the possibility of more lowland snow Tuesday, Feb.19 and Wednesday, Feb. 20. The timing and amount of snow remains uncertain right now, so monitor the forecast at weather.gov/seattle or follow @NWSSeattle on Twitter.

Other notes

King County Metro Transit is returning to normal operations after several days of snow routing and Emergency Snow Network activation. Most buses are back on their regular route, but a few are still making detours, so follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for updates. Metro is asking riders for feedback regarding the storm response. Share your input online or by calling 206-263-9768.

Trash haulers in King County are gradually resuming normal service. Check with your provider for an updated schedule or special instructions for customers. King County Solid Waste Division has a searchable list online.

Recovery from epic snowstorm continues

After one of the worst winter storms to hit our region in decades, King County is in recovery mode. Temperatures have warmed enough that snow is starting to melt in most areas, and precipitation is falling as rain in the lowlands. While the big storms may be over for now, there are still weather-related hazards to be aware of today.

Today’s weather hazards

The National Weather Service in Seattle is warning of the increased risk of landslides. Melting snow and rainfall has saturated the ground, which could send rocks and soil sliding. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has a Landslide Hazard Forecast Map available online.

Courtesy NWS, click to enlarge

Flooding is also a growing concern. Another weather system is expected to arrive Thursday afternoon and evening, bringing more rain to the lowlands. Snow levels should stay above 1,500 feet with this weathermaker, which is expected to last through Saturday. Check the latest forecasts at weather.gov/seattle.

The middle third of King County is under a Wind Advisory until 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 14. Expect east winds 15 to 30 mph with wind gusts up to 50 mph near gaps in the mountains. These winds could cause tree damage and lead to localized power outages. Stay away from damaged power lines, and report outages to your local utility.

Finally, a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the Cascades until 8 a.m. on Friday, February 15. An additional six to eight inches of snow could fall in the warned area, which was already pummeled by up to four feet of snow earlier this week. Plan on snow-covered and slick roads with hazardous travel conditions. Follow @wsdot_passes on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information about road conditions through Snoqualmie and Stevens passes.

Drivers should also be cautious as the temperature drops this evening and overnight. Melting snow and rain during the day could refreeze into black ice. Watch your speed on the road, and be prepared for slippery spots.

Storm response in eastern King County

Much of eastern King County, including North Bend, Carnation, Duvall, Fall City, Maple Valley, and other communities in the Cascade foothills, are still blanketed by more than two feet of snow. King County Road Services crews are working around the clock to plow and treat streets in unincorporated areas, but the sheer volume of snow is making for slow work. Residents in unincorporated areas who want to make a road service request can call the 24-hour Roads hotline at 206-477-8100.

King County has also established a second 24-hour hotline, 206-296-3830, for residents who are stuck in their homes and neighborhoods by snow. If you have an urgent need, such as transportation to a vital health care appointment, food, fuel, shelter, or evacuation, call 206-296-3830. Translation service is available. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. The Washington National Guard has stationed high-clearance vehicles at several fire stations in eastern King County to assist first responders making emergency calls in snow-bound communities.

A list of severe weather shelters around King County is available from Crisis Connections.

Watch King County Executive Dow Constantine give a briefing to local media on February 13 about emergency response and coordination efforts in east King County.