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.
According to the National Weather Service, we could see a brief respite before yet another weather system moves in on Sunday evening. Current breezy conditions are expected to last through tonight. Additional power outages are likely and lingering freezing temperatures will prevent current snow accumulations from dissipating much.
Safety remains a top priority, so residents are urged to continue making smart decisions regarding travel and personal preparedness.
- Stay indoors, if possible. If going outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing and avoid exertion.
- Make sure your pets have access to warm shelter and unfrozen drinking water.
- Check on your neighbors; especially those who are older or might need extra help.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and get medical help immediately. Symptoms include uncontrolled shivering, slow or unclear speech, and extreme fatigue.
Both daytime warming centers, and overnight shelters, are in operations. King County has opened additional shelter space for people experiencing homelessness. King County operates shelters at the Administration Building, Fourth and Jefferson Building, and Harborview Hall, all in or near downtown Seattle.
A list of all available shelters across the county is available from King County 211 or by calling 2-1-1.
King County Roads crews continue 24/7 operations to clear and treat roadways as quickly as they can. Please be patient as trucks make their way to your neighborhood. You can call the 24/7 Road Helpline to report road blockages or ask questions: 206-477-8100.
King County Metro continues significantly reduced bus service for Sunday and possibly beyond. Riders who intend to use Metro’s services should visit the Emergency Snow Network webpage to view details about routes in operation and to identify their options.
Heavy snow continued to fall in the Puget Sound region overnight. The National Weather Service in Seattle says Sea-Tac Airport set a new daily record for snowfall on Friday, with 6.4 inches recorded. Even more snow fell across the region in the early morning hours on Saturday. As beautiful as the blanket of white is to look at, navigating roadways will prove challenging. Following are some considerations for staying safe (and of sound mind):
Road crews from multiple cities, King County, and WSDOT have been working around-the-clock to plow and treat streets, freeways, and state highways. However, they can’t be everywhere at once, so be patient and stay off the roads if you can. If you must drive, clear the snow and ice off your vehicle, including the roof. Give snow plows space to work safely, and allow extra time into your travel plans so you are not in a hurry to reach your destination.
King County Metro Transit is now on Emergency Snow Network until further notice. This means bus service will be severely reduced across the county, with some areas seeing limited or no bus service because of difficult travel conditions or geography. Even those routes that are part of the ESN may see delays or other issues due to the snow.
Travelers using Sea-Tac Airport are advised to check with their airline before leaving home to make sure flights are not canceled or delayed.
The Winter Storm Warning for King County remains in effect until 4 p.m. Strong wind, with gusts up to 45 mph are still a possibility, resulting in bitter wind chills especially Sunday night when temperatures could plummet into the teens. The wind has also caused numerous power outages across the area.
Making this situation more challenging is that a second winter storm is due to blow through the region late Sunday into Monday, dumping even more snow.
What you can do
The best advice for the next couple of days is to stay home. If you can’t, be aware of changing weather conditions, be alert to road closures, watch for downed trees and power lines, and expect long travel times. Keep your car’s gas tank at least half-full, and have an emergency kit and extra warm clothing in your vehicle.
If you have older neighbors, or neighbors who might need extra help, check on them if you can.
If you’re out shoveling snow, dress warmly and in layers. Don’t overexert yourself. Take breaks, and be aware of the signs of hypothermia.
Only call 9-1-1 in an emergency. If you have questions or concerns about our region’s storm response, call our 24/7 public hotline at 206-296-3830.
Snow will continue tonight and into the early morning hours across King County, with total accumulation of six inches or more. A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect through 4 p.m. Saturday, February 9 for the entire Puget Sound region. Stay up to date with the latest forecats at weather.gov/seattle.
With the storm continuing, King County has opened additional shelter space for people experiencing homelessness. A list of all available shelters across the county is available from King County 211 or by calling 2-1-1. King County operates shelters at the Administration Building, Fourth and Jefferson Building, and Harborview Hall, all in or near downtown Seattle. Outreach teams funded by King County and the City of Seattle are meeting with people experiencing homelessness to encourage them to come inside during the winter storm. The King County Emergency Services Patrol will operate 24/7 during the weekend to help people who are living on the streets in downtown Seattle.
Because of the additional snowfall potential, King County Metro Transit will activate its Emergency Snow Network (ESN) on Saturday. Residents should be aware that bus service will be severely reduced. Some areas of the county may have limited or no bus service because of difficult travel conditions or geography.
And a reminder: Please only call 9-1-1 for emergencies. All other non-emergency questions or concerns may be directed to our 24/7 public hotline at 206-296-3830.
The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Winter Storm Watch, effective from noon Friday, February 8 through Saturday, February 9 for much of the Puget Sound region, including King County.
A Winter Storm Watch means that heavy snow is possible in this area, with total accumulations in the six to nine inch range. There remains some uncertainty in the details, as a few areas could see a foot of snow, while other locations may only see two to four inches. Windy conditions will develop late Friday night into Saturday with north winds 20 to 35 mph. Temperatures late Friday night through Saturday will fall through the 20s.
The heaviest snow in King County is expected from Friday night into Saturday morning. Travel could be very difficult to impossible during and after the storm.
Stay up to date on the latest forecasts, and take time now to prepare yourself and your household for storm impacts.