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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
King County is working with partners to bring additional support and resources to East King County communities heavily impacted by snow. The county has requested National Guard personnel and vehicles, and has ordered additional snow plows.
For unincorporated residents who are stuck in their neighborhood and have urgent service needs, we’ve established a 24/7 hotline for these issues: 206-296-3830 (translation service is available).
A friendly reminder the hotline: Please call only to communicate non-emergency needs, such as a need for transportation to a vital health care appointment, running out of generator fuel, needing food, or needing alternate shelter. As always, in an emergency, call 9-1-1.
A list of severe weather shelters around King County is available from Crisis Connections. NOTE: The American Red Cross emergency shelter in Duvall has closed due to community needs being met.
Find more information and tips in the latest update from our Department of Local Services.
- Stay away from structures that are vulnerable to collapse due to heavy snow load.
- Don’t operate generators indoors or near a door or window; never cook or heat inside with a charcoal or gas grill. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can make you ill, or even kill you. Get information about CO poisoning at kingcounty.gov/CO-poisoning.
- If you are able to do so safely, check on neighbors, family, and friends, especially if they are older, have access or functional needs, or if you think their power might be out.
With temperatures rising above freezing in the lowlands, our concerns have shifted from snow to other hazards. The National Weather Service in Seattle has compiled a list of the potential hazards we face this week:
Landslides: As snow slowly melts it will seep into the soils, increasing the threat of landslides. This threat is currently highest below 1,000 feet where precipitation has changed to rain. The landslide risk will spread north through the coming days.
Roof Collapse: Rain falling into wet, heavy snow will add strain to roofs. If a roof is in imminent danger of collapse, stay away and call 9-1-1.
Snow Loads: Wet, heavy snow can down power lines. Snow can also cause downed branches and trees, also leading to outages. Wet, heavy snow can cause branches or trees to fall on homes, vehicles and people.
Slush: Many secondary roads and side streets have deep slush or compact snow and ice. Overnight lows, especially Wednesday night and Thursday morning, may result in areas of black ice, impacting commutes/travel.
Neighborhood Flooding: Rain and melting snow in the lowlands may combine with clogged storm drains to create areas of standing water. This can cause motorists to hydroplane. Area streams will also rise.
As our region digs out from the most significant snowstorm in years, take some simple steps to keep yourself and your family safe:
- Removing snow from your roof with a shovel can trigger unexpected snow slides causing crushing/suffocating injuries or death. Keep people and animals away from potential slide zones.
- It is strongly recommend you not access your roof to clear snow. Climbing on a roof increases the load already stressed by the heavy snow load. The use of ladders when removing snow from your roof can pose additional hazards.
- Consider hiring experts who have experience and specialized equipment for safely clearing snow or ice.
- Clear any accumulation of snow around side wall vents that connect to household appliances, such as a clothes dryer.