Snowed under: Heavy storm paralyzes Edmonds; another system expected soon

By Brian Soergel | Feb 07, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel At the ferry docks, a brave soul weathers the elements Monday at Brackett’s Landing North, which included the rare sight of snow on the beach.

Boy oh boy, did the weatherheads on TV get this one wrong. A dusting of snow up to 1 inch, they said, could be expected Sunday night into Monday morning, they said.

In fact, the snow began falling early Sunday afternoon. Just a few small flakes at first, then bigger ones, then the big fluffy flakes in a big hurry. And more and more and more, until the snow was exhausted late Sunday afternoon.

Then the snow really fell, late Sunday night into Monday morning. It came from nasty arctic weather squeezing through the Fraser River Gap in British Columbia, its windy onrush funneled directly into the Interstate 5 corridor.

When it was over, the National Weather Service reported 5 inches of snow in Edmonds – it even blanketed the beaches – but that amount certainly varied depending on where you live in the city.

The end game of the white rain was never in doubt: Temps in the teens, schools closed both Monday and Tuesday, power outages, businesses and roads closed, spinouts unavoidable, kids on sleds. The Shell Valley emergency access road opened Monday so residents could access Main Street.

The ferries didn’t escape the mayhem. The snowstorm that brought choppy seas and big waves that crashed on Edmonds beaches also shattered a galley window on the Puyallup ferry during its Edmonds-Kingston run.

Washington State Ferries' spokesman Ian Sterling said the window has been fixed and the ferry did not experience any interruptions.

Along with big waves that were almost surfable, the storm tossed numerous logs onto local beaches.

Police stay busy

On Monday, the Edmonds Police tweeted that all volumes were significant and response times long. “If you are in a non-injury collision and can exchange info safely,” police wrote, “please do that instead of waiting for an officer.”

On Tuesday, Sgt. Shane Hawley reported that his department responded to 135 calls from 8 a.m. Sunday through 8 p.m. Monday. Among those calls were 13 alarm calls, 12 collisions, 11 911-emergency call hang-ups and 33 blocking-vehicle traffic complaints.

“We don't know how many other collisions occurred in the city,” Hawley said, “where the involved parties simply exchanged information and will file collision reports later online through Washington State Patrol, or by getting the forms in person at the police station. We had assigned office staff out on the road in uniform to keep up with calls.”

As the only way east from where Puget Sound meets Edmonds is up, police put up barricades on numerous trouble spots, such as the steep grade on Walnut Street between Ninth and Seventh avenues south.

Major arterials were best, but even those were slippery with ice, and downtown Edmonds was mostly deserted mid-morning Monday. Many businesses closed as employees were forced to stay home; some closed due to power outages.

According to Snohomish County PUD spokesman Aaron Swaney, about 10,000 customers lost power Monday due to the snowy and windy conditions. A couple of thousand were in the downtown Edmonds and Firdale areas. Most of these outages were the result of tree limbs falling into lines.

At 1 p.m. Monday, Swaney said things had improved. Crews continued to work through the afternoon and evening to restore power.

“Our crews did a great job of getting folks back up despite the treacherous driving conditions,” he said.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, City Hall and the Municipal Court buildings closed for the remainder of the day due to lack of power and heat. Other City functions remained operational, including Public Works, Police, and Parks Department staff, who all assisted with snow-related support services.

The Frances Anderson Center closed Monday as well, open for staff only.

The regularly scheduled City Council meeting Tuesday night was canceled.

Public works

As of 1 p.m. Monday, all of Edmonds’ arterial streets and major roadways were open, Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams said. Some residential streets closed where they were too slick to allow a plow truck and sander.

Williams said workers were sanding and de-icing continuously since before the snow began to fall Sunday. They continued throughout Monday and Tuesday to keep primary routes open.

Williams had some good advice for residents, which remains relevant as more snow and inclement conditions are expected this weekend.

“As always, keep trips to the minimum necessary, try to shift them out of prime commuting periods and drive slowly,” he said.

“Please, those of you with four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, don't get overly aggressive. You may be able to start quickly in slippery conditions, but stopping will be just as difficult as it is for everybody else. Be patient, leave early, and stay safe.”

Williams said he’s noticed quite a few kids – and some parents – out sledding on city streets.

“I understand the temptation but it is just not safe,” he said. “These streets are generally not closed. People can back out of driveways quickly. You may not be able to stop at the bottom and could enter traffic at the next intersection.

“Most sleds are not easy to steer with precision. We have had some serious accidents as a result of this activity in the past. Exercise caution. Parents, please help them do so. As always, thank you for your cooperation.”

Hang in there. Spring is around the corner, right?

To see numerous Beacon photos and those submitted by readers, go to the Beacon’s Facebook page.


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