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Originally published November 28, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 28, 2006 at 9:59 PM

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Brrrr! Arctic cold tonight follows snow, ice

Tired of the snow, ice and cold? Hold on to your mittens. It's about to get a whole lot colder. And another storm is predicted for Wednesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

It's about to get a whole lot colder with more snow, sleet and freezing rain predicted for Wednesday night."We'll struggle to get above freezing, and anyplace north of Seattle will be below freezing all day," Danny Mercer, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Seattle said this morning. Though the temperature in the city could reach a high of 36 degrees, forecasters are expecting an 18-degree low tonight, he said.

"Tonight will be the coldest night" because the skies will be clear, Mercer said.

Another storm, this one coming off the Pacific, is set to hit the coast Wednesday and move inland overnight, Mercer said.

Warmer air is expected to arrive in the region by Thursday.

In the meantime, though, freezing temperatures have made a mess out there.

Winter driving tips

• Drive with headlights on.

• Slow down. If possible, avoid driving when roads are icy.

• Even when roads are dry, watch out for icy bridges.

• Stay at least 15 car lengths (200 feet) back from maintenance vehicles and plows, and don't pass them on the right.

• Don't use cruise control or overdrive in freezing weather.

• Don't pump anti-lock brakes to stop.

• Clear snow and ice from car surfaces before driving.

• Keep safety equipment, spare parts and food and water in the car.

More winter driving tips at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter/


POSTED 9:58 PM Tuesday
Seattle schools closed on Wednesday

Bad weather has forced the closure of Seattle schools for the second straight day Wednesday. Also closed will be schools in the Bellevue and Issaquah districts.


POSTED 7:09 PM Tuesday
Power restored power to the town of Concrete

Puget Sound Energy tonight restored power to the town of Concrete in Skagit County.

The town's 800 residents and its business district had been dark since early Monday and PSE had made it a priority to restore light and power.

Workers dealing with two-foot snow drifts said it seemed as though as soon as one problem was fixed, another was found.


UPDATED 4:06 PM Tuesday
Bank branches close early

Bank of America has about 150 branches in the Seattle area, and most are closing at 5 p.m. today, an hour earlier than usual, said spokesman Terry Francisco. The plan is for them to reopen as normal Wednesday, though that could change, he said.

Wells Fargo closed 10 branches Tuesday in the Puget Sound area, including locations in Renton, Issaquah and the Laurelhurst section of Seattle. Spokeswoman Lara Underhill said the bank is taking a "wait and see" approach to whether those branches reopen Wednesday. Underhill said the bank's ATMs remain in working order, and customers are still able to do their banking by phone or over the Internet.


POSTED 2:35 PM Tuesday
Closing in on precipitation record

Seattle needs less than one-tenth of an inch of precipitation by Thursday to break a 73-year-old record for the wettest month in history, according to the National Weather Service. As of midnight, 15.26 inches had been measured at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said meteorologist Johnny Burg. That means we need just 0.08 inches to exceed the 15.33 inches measured in December 1933 at the Federal Building in Seattle, where records span the 1890s to 1960s. The service began measuring rainfall at the airport in 1945.

"I think we'll definitely break the record," Burg said. The next storm, expected to hit Wednesday evening and last through Thursday morning, should bring enough precipitation to make November 2006 the wettest month on record. "How much will fall and how fast it will change over [from snow] to rain is what we're still uncertain about," he said.


UPDATED 1:55 PM Tuesday
Tow trucks on overdrive

In a typical 24-hour period, the American Automobile Association's call center in Bellevue typically handles 2,300 calls for emergency road-side assistance from Everett to Olympia, said AAA spokesman Dave Overstreet. Today, the call volume is expected to be up to 150 percent above normal, he said, noting that between midnight and 11 a.m. today, the Bellevue center received 1,600 calls for help. Helping the State Patrol clear abandoned cars from freeways and highways is the top priority for the 155 towing companies that contract with AAA in Western Washington, so "there will be longer wait times than normal" for motorists requesting non-emergency assistance, Overstreet said.


POSTED 11:35 AM Tuesday
DOT Web site swamped

The state Department of Transportation's Web site had so much activity Monday and this morning many drivers weren't able to access it. Lloyd Brown, spokesman for the department, said the site averaged 7.5 million page views a day over the Thanksgiving weekend and he doesn't know how many yesterday and today, but say it may break the record 12 million views set in 2004. He said the site never went down, but because so many people were trying to get into it it slowed to a crawl. Even DOT workers had a hard time getting into the site to update it, he said.


POSTED 11:25 AM Tuesday
Icy roads in Snohomish County

Northbound Interstate 405 — which had been closed Monday night because of accidents and spinouts in the Bothell area — reopened in time for the morning commute. Highway 9 reopened, as did Highway 522 from Highway 9 near Woodinville north to Paradise Lake Road. It remained closed farther north, according to the state Department of Transportation. Rest areas along I-5 south of Arlington were closed due to a power outage.


POSTED 11:05 AM Tuesday
Critically injured

A 60-year-old man was critically injured Monday night after a motorist crushed his legs in a weather-related accident on Highway 509 in SeaTac, according to the State Patrol. The man hit a patch of ice as he was driving near 128th Street, pulled onto the shoulder and stepped out of his van, said Trooper Jeff Merrill. Another motorist "hit the same patch of ice" and crashed into the man at 11:15 p.m. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center. On Monday, troopers "responded to several hundred accidents," Merrill said, but the SeaTac crash was the only one to result in someone being seriously hurt.


POSTED 10:50 AM Tuesday
Abandoned vehicles

The State Patrol was working to clear nearly 200 abandoned vehicles from freeway shoulders, interchanges and ramps, said Trooper Jeff Merrill. Many of the vehicles were left after drivers got stuck in the snow. "There are a ton around Federal Way," with more abandoned vehicles on Interstate 5 near the King-Snohomish county line, on I-90 in Issaquah between West Lake Sammamish Parkway and Sunset Boulevard, and on I-405 north of Totem Lake into Snohomish County, Merrill said.

"Traffic is moving a lot better," he said, but the patrol wants to get vehicles removed so that transportation crews will be able to plow and de-ice freeways after the next storm hits.


POSTED 10:50 AM Tuesday
Courts

King County Superior Court, King County District Courts, U.S. District Court in Seattle and the state Court of Appeals, Division One, also in Seattle, were both closed due to weather. Other courts are also closed. For a full list, visit www.courts.wa.gov


UPDATED 12:28 PM Tuesday
Homeless

Because of the snow and cold weather, the city of Seattle has opened two severe weather shelters downtown. One, at City Hall, holds 75 people and was full Monday night. The women-only shelter in the Frye Hotel, at Third Avenue and Yesler Streets, has a capacity of 25 beds, and Monday night had 31 women staying there. The criteria for a severe weather emergency is temperatures of 32 degrees or colder, snow, or two or more days of rain, said Al Poole, director of the city's homeless program. In addition to the two severe weather shelters, the city also opened 80 beds Monday night in the Downtown Emergency Service Center at Third Avenue and James Street and 25 beds at the Compass Center on Alaskan Way. Poole said no one was turned away at any shelters last night "and we're feeling pretty good about that." Of the 80 beds at the downtown emergency shelter, only 44 were filled last night.


POSTED 10:40 AM Tuesday
Metro buses

Buses are driving on snow routes today, with bus drivers using alternate roads to avoid going up or down hills, said Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke. Bus service was hampered this morning because 100 buses became stuck overnight, many of them north of North 85th Street in Seattle, because drivers left on their routes before the snow started flying late Monday afternoon. Chains were being fitted on operating buses today and riders are encouraged to check schedules for adverse-weather information and routes at http://transit.metrokc.gov


POSTED 10:40 AM Tuesday
Power outages

Though there were scattered power outages throughout the area, Snohomish County was hardest hit, with up to 60,000 customers losing power since Sunday. As of Monday, 14,000 customers, mostly in northern Snohomish County and on Camano Island, were still waiting for the heat and lights to come back on.


POSTED 10:40 AM Tuesday
Schools

Numerous school districts — including Seattle, Shoreline, Everett, Bellevue, Federal Way and Issaquah — closed today. That means some 350,000 students in the Puget Sound region aren't in classes today, according to The Associated Press.


POSTED 10:40 AM Tuesday
Garbage collection

Due to snow and icy conditions, garbage, yard waste and recycling collections in Seattle will be delayed by a day, weather permitting.

Rabanco, one of the region's largest waste-collection companies, won't be picking up trash today either, according to the company's Web site.


POSTED 09:40 AM Tuesday
Icy roads

Ice-covered roads and highways made for a treacherous morning commute but road crews, who worked through the night Monday, were concentrating on plowing and de-icing Interstates 5, 405 and 90, along with Highway 520 in King County, said a spokeswoman for the state transportation department. Seattle's Lake City neighborhood and points north were especially hazardous, as were roads in the Tacoma area, where a section of Highway 512 was closed this morning due to ice.


POSTED 09:40 AM Tuesday
Sea-Tac Airport

Seattle Tacoma International Airport is operating as usual today, but flights have been delayed or cancelled — not because of adverse flying conditions but because flight crews and security workers have had trouble making it to work, said Bob Parker, a spokesman for the Port of Seattle. The delays are expected to end later today and passengers who miss their flights should be able to get on later flights, he said.


Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times staff reporters Peyton Whitely, Susan Gilmore and Christopher Schwarzen contributed to this report.

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