Winter storm to bring more snow, icy conditions
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Skagit County and the greater Puget Sound region for Friday and Saturday.
A winter storm is expected to hit the region in earnest Friday morning and continue through Sunday.
An updated forecast Thursday suggests areas of Skagit County are likely to see 4 to 12 inches of snow between Thursday and Sunday. That’s an increase over previous estimates.
A winter storm watch means significant snow and ice could impact travel.
State Department of Transportation workers based in Mount Vernon were preparing Thursday to work 12-hour shifts through the storm.
Maintenance and Operations Superintendent Mark Renshaw said those workers and others in the area will use the agency’s trucks to plow snow and spread sand and salt.
“When you have snow, it’s all hands on deck,” said Kevin Klocke, a Department of Transportation driver based in Mount Vernon.
The weather service cautioned Wednesday that the coming storm and continued freezing conditions may create icy roadways, and wind may create visibility problems and cause power outages.
The most likely scenario as of Thursday afternoon is for areas along Interstate 5 to see 4 to 6 inches of snow, and higher elevation areas to the east to see 6 to 12 inches, according to the weather service.
Reid Wolcott, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Seattle Office, said it’s highly likely that this storm will bring more snow than the storm that hit the region Monday.
With low temperatures and winter storms forecast to potentially continue for the next two weeks, the National Weather Service also warns that snow may accumulate.
“We’re in a cold pattern, so whatever falls is gonna stick around,” Wolcott said during a Thursday media briefing.
Most of the snow is expected to fall late Friday and early Saturday, causing concerns for Friday evening travel.
“Our No. 1 worry right now is the afternoon and evening commute tomorrow ... throughout all of Western Washington,” Wolcott said during the briefing.
He said snow may also begin to fall early Friday in Whatcom and Skagit counties before the storm moves south later in the day.
Due to the forecast, Sedro-Woolley School District announced Thursday that it will close its schools two hours early Friday.
The Conway School District announced Thursday that its schools will operate on a normal schedule.
Meanwhile, cold weather shelters are available in Anacortes, Concrete and Mount Vernon.
The Concrete Volunteer Fire Department is opening its facility to those without electricity or a safe place to stay during the weekend storm.
Due to the storm forecast, the state Department of Transportation moved Thursday the winter closure of Highway 20 west from milepost 134 to milepost 130, which is closer to Diablo.
In Skagit County, winds in the 15-20 mph range with gusts up to 60 mph are also forecast, according to a special weather statement from the weather service.
That wind could create visibility problems and will bring a wind chill, Wolcott said.
Low temperatures are forecast to remain primarily in the 20s through Monday, although Sunday lows may dip into the teens. Highs are forecast in the mid-to-high 30s.
The weather service is cautioning that a third snowstorm could hit Western Washington early next week. Wolcott said not much more is known and each storm is different.
“It’s like a snowflake: No two are alike,” he said.