Category Archives: Cold

“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.

Snow plus rain equals additional hazards

Deep snow levels, mixed with falling rain, can lead to heavy loads on rooftops and potential structural collapse or sliding snow. While most new structures are built to withstand heavier snow loads, buildings and structures with flat roofs, such as carports, are at greater risk of collapse. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the western third of King County until 4 a.m. Tuesday, February 12. Expect up to three inches of wet snow to fall from Seattle north overnight. Get the latest forecast and maps from the National Weather Service at weather.gov/seattle.

Use caution when clearing snow

  • If a roof (whether flat or sloped) is in eminent danger of collapse, stay away from the structure and call 9-1-1 for emergency help.
  • 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.

The National Weather Service’s latest forecast indicates a transition in precipitation from snow to rain, or a rain-snow mix, overnight. Temperatures are expected be just above freezing, reaching the low 40’s by Thursday.  Southeast winds

Prevent flooding around your home

  • Monitor neighborhood storm drains and keep them free of ice, snow and debris.
  • Do not block storm drains with snow from your driveway.
  • If the storm drain is blocked, use a shovel to clear the top of the grate, and break up and remove any built-up ice.
  • NEVER remove a storm drain lid or attempt to clean a drain located in a busy street.

Report and track power outages online

Power outages are on the increase. As of 7 p.m. Monday approximately 4,000 King County area Puget Sound Energy customers and more than 22,000 Seattle City Light customers were without power.

Know what to do when the power goes out.

Stormin’ is the norm; so is staying informed

We can expect the work week to be anything but “normal” as a series of winter storms continue to descend upon the Puget Sound region. Power outages could increase if slushy precipitation freezes, weighing down tree limbs. Travel could become precarious should added moisture turn roads into ice rinks. Some government and business services may be closed or delayed through tomorrow.

Given these conditions, residents are urged to remain at home if you can, check on neighbors who may need support, and be understanding that recovery from “Snowmaggedon2019” will take time. Emergency personnel, including road crews, utility and bus maintenance workers, law enforcement, fire, and others have been working long hours for more than a week to ensure public safety.

Stay informed

Garbage pick-up

  • Some solid waste companies are reporting cancellations to their residential garbage collections. Contact your hauler for updated schedule information. Find the hauler for your community: bit.ly/2X4JcuC
  • The Vashon Recycling and Transfer Station, and the Cedar Falls Drop Box in North Bend are closed. Both facilities are scheduled to be open for service on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Shelters and warming centers
King County and the City of Seattle have teams out around the clock to assist people experiencing homelessness and direct them to shelters or other services. King County has made 300 sleeping spaces available in or near downtown Seattle, and beds are available. These overnight shelters are located at the King County Administration Building, Fourth and Jefferson Building, and Harborview Hall.

The Jefferson Day Center is open daily at Fourth and Jefferson and a temporary warming center is open at the Administration Building through Tuesday, both from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. More than 150 people sought respite from the cold at the day center on Saturday and more than 200 people came indoors during the day on Sunday. For information on shelters around King County, call 2-1-1 or visit Crisis Connections.

Understand the different types of shelters:

  • Warming Centers are locations that provide a respite from the cold.
  • Day Centers are spaces that provide services such as case management, hygiene, etc.. and respite from the cold.
  • Overnight Shelters (often called “Emergency Shelters”) are locations that provide overnight accommodations for people who are homeless.
  • 24/7 Shelters (often called “Enhanced Shelters”) are spaces that provide both overnight accommodations and warmth during the day with access to services.
  • Severe Weather Shelters are locations that provide overnight accommodations for people who are homeless only during severe weather situations (as defined by local jurisdictions).

Public transit 

  • Riders who intend to use King County Metro’s services should visit the Emergency Snow Network webpage to view details about routes in operation and to identify their options. ESN routes will travel on posted snow routes unless otherwise communicated. The Customer Information Office is available at 6 a.m. to assist riders with trip planning, at 206-553-3000.
  • Sound Transit’s Link light rail has been operating its normal schedule and has been offering reliable service.
  • Sound Transit’s Sounder Trains had slight delays early on today, but are back to regularly scheduled service this afternoon.

Public Health centers

Most Public Health Center locations are open today, Monday Feb. 11, 2019. However, some specific clinics are closed. If you are scheduled for an appointment on Monday or want a walk-in appointment, please call in advance to confirm the clinic’s hours. You also may re-schedule your appointment for another day. If you are having trouble reaching a clinic, please call the Public Health Call Center at 206-263-9300.

February 12 Special Election

  • Due to inclement weather, the Accessible Voting Center at Union Station in Seattle will be closed Monday, February 11 and Election Day Tuesday, February 12. Voters can still cast their ballots at the Accessible Voting Center in the King County Elections building in Renton. Voters can also cast a ballot at the Elections Annex in downtown Seattle.
  • Ballot drop boxes that are not located in a jurisdiction with an election are also closed. A list of open drop boxes is available on the King County Elections website.
  • Voters who need a replacement ballot can access one online or contact King County Elections at 206-296-VOTE (8683) for assistance. Ballots must be postmarked by February 12 or returned to a drop box by 8 p.m. Election Day.

Volunteer opportunity

Pets are affected by severe weather too. Anyone interested in volunteering with Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) may attend the next New Volunteer Orientation on March 19 at 4 p.m. Orientations are held at the Pet Adoption Center in Kent. To register or learn more about volunteering, visit kingcounty.gov/RASKCVolunteer.

Winter wallop continues into workweek

Winter continues its icy grip on King County, though the weather picture became more complicated overnight. The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued several advisories:

Courtesy NWS, click to enlarge

  • A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the western third of King County from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, February 11. This advisory covers most of the urbanized areas of King County, including cities such as Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Kenmore, and Federal Way. Total snowfall of one to three inches is expected, with precipitation turning to rain or a rain/snow mix late in the afternoon. However, if the cold air remains in place, the precipitation could be all snow, and accumulations could be heavier.
  • A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the middle third of King County from 10 a.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. This covers many of the foothill areas such as Carnation, Duvall, North Bend, and Enumclaw. Heavy snow of four to eight inches is expected in this area.
  • Finally, a Winter Storm Warning is in effect from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday for the Cascades of eastern King County. One to two feet of snow is expected in this area, which will lead to travel trouble through Snoqualmie and Stevens passes.

Because of the uncertainty, it will be vital to monitor the forecast at weather.gov/seattle and @NWSSeattle on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

King County agencies

Most King County offices and service counters will open to the public as normal on Monday, February 11, with the following exceptions:

  • Superior Court is closed. This includes the courthouses in Seattle, Kent (Maleng Regional Justice Center), Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA), and juvenile courts. Jurors scheduled to begin jury duty on Monday are excused and considered as having served. This means these jurors do not have to return Tuesday for jury duty. For updates, please follow Superior Court on Twitter at @KingSupCourt.
  • District Court is closed, with the exception of in-custody hearings at the King County Jail Courtroom at 12:30 p.m.
  • The County Council’s Local Services, Regional Roads, and Bridges Committee meeting has been canceled.
  • The Department of Assessments is closed.
  • The Kent and Renton Community Service Centers are closed.

Be aware that deteriorating weather conditions could force early closures. Check kingcounty.gov or @KingCountyWA on Twitter for updates.

Travel conditions

King County Metro Transit will remain on Emergency Snow Network through at least Tuesday, February 12. Bus service is reduced to just 67 core routes and shuttles, with some areas of the county seeing severely limited or no bus service. Metro encourages commuters to allow for extended travel times and to prepare alternate travel plans if their route is not in service. Riders should also be prepared for crowding and potentially longer waits at bus stops. Check MetroWinter.com, Metro Matters, or follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for information, maps, updates, and more. Haga clic aquí para obtener información de Sistema de Emergencia de Nieve en español.

Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail and Sounder commuter rail service continue to operate as normally as possible given the weather conditions. Check service alerts here or follow @SoundTransit on Twitter for information.

King County Roads continues to plow and treat roads in its service area in unincorporated King County. Check kingcounty.gov/roads/SnowAndIce or follow @kcroads on Twitter for updates.

Cities in King County are also busy plowing and treating roads, but for the most part this has been limited to major thoroughfares. Side streets and neighborhood roads are still snow-covered in most areas. Visit SeattleTraffic.org or your city’s website for specific information.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews are busy keeping freeways and highways cleared, but drivers should still expect slow-going. Mountain passes could be restricted or closed to traffic. Check conditions at wsdot.com/traffic or on Twitter at @wsdot_traffic.

Flights in and out of Sea-Tac Airport may be delayed or canceled today. Check the Sea-Tac Airport website, watch @SeaTacAirport on Twitter, or check with your airline to see if your travel may be impacted.

Trash collection

The continued tough travel conditions have forced most waste haulers to delay or suspend service.

If you don’t know who your hauler is, King County Solid Waste Division has a list here.

Schools and colleges

Most school districts and colleges in the Puget Sound region will be closed on Monday, February 11. Check FlashAlert.net for a complete listing.

Sheltering

King County and the City of Seattle have teams out around the clock to assist people experiencing homelessness and direct them to shelters or other services. King County has made 300 sleeping spaces available in or near downtown Seattle. These overnight shelters are located at the King County Administration Building, Fourth and Jefferson Building, and Harborview Hall. In addition, day centers are open at Fourth and Jefferson and the Administration Building from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information on shelters around King County, call 2-1-1 or visit Crisis Connections.

Power outages and CO poisoning

There have already been some power outages associated with this winter storm. With the possibility of significant ice accumulations later this week, the risk of injury or death from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases as people without electricity look for alternate sources of heat. Physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include splitting headache, nausea and vomiting, and lethargy and fatigue.

To prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide:

  • Only use a generator outdoors and far from open windows and vents
  • Never use a generator or portable propane heater indoors, in garages, or in carports
  • Never cook or heat indoors with a charcoal or gas grill
  • If you think you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Call for medical help from a neighbor’s home. The Fire Department will tell you when it is safe to reenter your home

For a full list of carbon monoxide prevention tips and other safety and disaster information in English and other languages, visit kingcounty.gov/health/disaster.

King County Metro Continues Emergency Snow Network

ESN Metro System Map

Countywide map of Metro’s Emergency Snow Network. (Click to enlarge.)

Due to dangerous roadway conditions and a forecast for ongoing freezing temperatures and more snow, King County Metro Transit will continue to operate only routes on its Emergency Snow Network on Monday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 12.

When the Emergency Snow Network is active, Metro will provide weekday service levels focused on only 60 high-ridership routes and shuttles to maintain reliability.

Find more information, and a list of operating routes, at the Metro Matters blog.

Follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information about rider alerts, conditions and service updates.

Metro activated its Emergency Snow Network at 4 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, and will continue until further notice.

Metro’s chained bus fleet has operated for two days on these core routes, which primarily serve key arterials and transit centers in many parts of King County.