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2013 December snowstorm

A snowstorm was expected to hit Western Washington on Friday, Dec. 20.

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SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The snow has stopped falling – but the roads are still tricky out there.

wreckThe Washington State Patrol says they’ve responded close to 200 accidents on Friday.

Close to Milepost 212 on Interstate 5 is where Brady Kittelson wrecked his fancy car and ruined his day.

“I’m glad that everyone else was paying attention and they noticed I was losing control because I would hate to have somebody else get injured,” said Kittleson.

Troopers gave Brady an early Christmas present — a $175 fine for not driving safely in the slippery conditions.

“I had music going and all of a sudden, I panicked, pressing the brakes, tried to steer. It was just out of control,” said Kittleson. “I started swerving and the next thing I know I went all across the lane and in the ditch.”

He wasn’t the only one having problems — about six-dozen other drivers spun out in both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-5.

Sheila Rucktie didn’t get Brady’s memo either — her Lincoln was destined for the ditch.

“I went to change lanes, I hit a slushy spot and spun out,” said Rucktie. “Now I’m in the ditch waiting in for a tow truck.”

Sixty Washington State Department of Transportation snowplows worked overtime to clear the freeways and state highways.

“We had crews out during the day and overnight putting on deicer and generally preparing the roads,” said the WSDOT’s Tom Pearce.

Since Friday was the last day of autumn, this storm is kind of like a trial run for the winter season.

“This storm was a good warmup for us,” said Pearce.

KENT — Parents in the Kent School District said they were upset officials did not delay or cancel school Friday because of the snowy weather.

Many neighboring districts closed or delayed by two hours, but Kent School District spokesman Chris Loftis says the decision to roll out as normal was made before 5 a.m. and at the time the roads looked pretty clear.

kentbusesLoftis said it wasn’t until about 6 a.m. that drivers and others in the area started reporting the weather worsening. At that point, Loftis said, it was too late to reverse the decision.

Frank Reed’s son who is in middle school walked to his bus stop, but he waited for 30 minutes and then walked home because it never showed, Reed said.

Eric Hall said hedecided to drive his kids to school himself after his sons’ bus didn’t show, and says on his way he saw cars in ditches and kids walking blocks to school slipping and falling on the sidewalk.

The district reports three buses were involved in “fender benders.”. Parents say many of the buses they saw didn’t have chains.

Patrick Nelson in Covington said he saw multiple buses lined up on the side of the road by the Lake Sawyer Store who could not make it up a hill to get to their kids.  Q13 FOX News lso received an email from a teacher who said staff at her school could not get there on time.

Watch our story on Q13 FOX News at 4:00 and 5:00 to hear the district’s apology and what they plan to do differently in the future.

Weather
12/20/13

Snow causes school delays before changing to rain

SEATTLE — Snow fell Friday morning all across Western Washington with accumulations of about an inch in Seattle, up to an inch in Tacoma, 1-2 inches in Everett and 2-5 inches in Bellingham, before it changed over to rain by early afternoon. Highs were expected to reach the mid 40s.

Dozens of schools across Puget Sound delayed or canceled school. The slick conditions made for a messy commute with some slide-offs reported across the region.

WSDOT said traffic volumes were much lower than normal because of the upcoming holiday.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Cascades with total accumulations of 9-20 inches by Friday night. The snow level will rise to 3,500 feet.

Winter arrives at 9:11 a.m. Saturday.  We’ll have rain showers with highs in the mid-to-upper 40s.

Sunday morning looks rainy with showers and temps near 50 in the afternoon as the Seahawks play. Go Hawks!

Monday will be showery. Then Christmas Eve & Christmas look dry, partly-to-mostly sunny with highs in the mid 40s. Good for Santa’s ride and for church services.

Viewer photos of the day . . .

ViewerPic22A

Brave bikers on snowy Lower Queen Anne. From Tim Joyce.

ViewerPic20A

12th Men, Brysen & Quincy, from Marlo.

ViewerPic20B

12th Baby! 2 1/2 month old Hudson. From Shannon in Lynden.

Local News
12/20/13

Your photos of the December snow

December Snow 5

Local News
12/20/13

Snow falling in Seattle

snowSEATTLE — Bundle up. Winter arrived early for much of Puget Sound. A winter weather advisory is in effect until 9 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service, one to three inches is expected to hit the area. The snow started falling in Everett around 3:00 Friday morning. The storm system then moved south and hit the Seattle metropolitan area around 4:30 a.m.

Drivers need to be aware of the conditions, and plan accordingly. DOT crews have been out treating the roads all night ahead of the morning commute. Hills, overpasses and bridges are the primary concern.

Experts at ‘Take Winter by Storm’ say drivers should pack an ice scraper, warm clothes and snow shoes in case of emergency. It’s also a good idea to have a plan in place for people to pick up your kids from school in case you get stuck.

King County Metro says passengers need to prepare for delays. Some buses may be pulled from service because they cannot navigate through the conditions. They may be replaced with smaller buses.

SEATTLE — State and local crews are preparing for falling snow and a messy commute Friday.

From the state, to Seattle, to King County Road Services, everyone was on standby to pre-treat roads and clear snow starting late Thursday night and into Friday morning.

brineThe Washington State Department of Transportation will be monitoring 450 cameras that show real-time traffic so when the snow starts and there are any problem areas they can get to it as quickly as possible. The agency has 60 snowplows on standby and they have the capability to double the force if needed.

The snow is expected to start in the north, near Belllingham, and move south down the Puget Sound region.

“We will deploy our flusher trucks this evening to lay down 6,000 gallons of salt brine. The salt brine will prevent snow and ice from bonding to the roadway surfaces. Then in the morning, prior to the commute, we will deploy two-thirds of our snowplow fleet to treat the road as salt is needed,” Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan said.

“If you do get stranded, make sure you get off the side of the road as best as you can. A couple of years ago, we had some injuries because people got out of their cars, one of our trucks showed up to help them and another car came careening into them,” Chris Johnson of WSDOT said.

King County Road Services, responsible for many of the neighborhood and rural streets, says its funding has been cut by 40 percent. They are concerned that if we get a lot of snow that it will take longer for crews to clear the streets.

Transportation officials are asking people to be aware and be prepared. Have a full tank of gas, get your tires ready and give yourself ample time.

Weather
12/19/13

Snowy morning expected for Western Washington

SEATTLE — Snow is expected to start Thursday night (around 9 p.m.) in Bellingham and roll south through the Puget Sound in the early morning hours (about 1 a.m.).

weatherThe snow will last until about 8 a.m. for most, but the precipitation stays as snow longer north of Seattle. The snowfall amounts will be around one inch for Seattle to Olympia near Puget Sound, two to three inches away from Puget Sound on higher hills (foothills), two to five  inches up around Everett and points north, up to six inches for points east of Everett and Bellingham up in the foothills. The ski areas get 10 or more inches.

So, all of this adds up to a slick morning commute. Rain heads in quickly so we are talking about rain on top of snow. It will be all rain by midday (except for Bellingham). This looks like a fast snowfall event so evening commute should be OK. It will be windy, too, on Friday.

It will be mostly dry over the weekend — and Christmas looks dry and sunny.

photoSEATTLE — With the region’s first widespread snow Friday morning, state and local crews had plows and salt brine ready to go.

“I think I’ll call work and see if they don’t need me maybe,” Seattle resident Jaclyn Capouilliez said Thursday night.

As commuters consider contingency plans, state and local snow crews were hunkering down and waiting. Snow flurries began falling in Bellingham at about 10:30 p.m. The snowstorm moved south toward Seattle overnight and beyond.

“You never really know, the Weather Service always says this is the most difficult place to forecast in the United States,” said Chris Johnson, maintenance and operations manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

WSDOT has 120 snowplows hitting the highways for Friday morning’s commute.

They are also watching trouble spots with their network of cameras — 450 of them that can capture crashes, stranded motorists and traffic backups in real time.

As for Seattle roads, the Seattle Department of Transportation says they have thousands of gallons of salt brine in their arsenal.

“In the early morning, prior to the commute, we will deploy two-thirds of our snowplow fleet to treat the roads with salt as needed,” SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan said.

“You might still want to avoid the big hills downtown,” Seattle resident Brad O’Connell said.

“It’s definitely a challenge coming from Ballard; you have to come up and down so many hills, I just try to avoid it if we can,” Capouilliez said.

Crews are hoping to prevent what happened during a snowstorm in the winter of 2012. Cars swerved, stalled and slammed into each other. The hilly terrain was just too difficult to maneuver.

But it’s not just hills crews are worried about this year.

Rural roads could be especially dangerous.

“We are concerned that there will be neighborhoods that will be isolated that weren’t previously isolated, that it will take longer to clear the roads,” King County Director of Road Services Brenda Bauer said.

All because of budget cuts, King County Road Services says its funding has been cut by 40%.

“If we have a big storm that affects the entire county, that’s when we will get in trouble. We can’t move resources around,” Bauer said.

So the message for drivers is to be prepared.

“More than anything else, they need to give themselves plenty of time and make sure their cars are ready,” Johnson said.

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