Winter muscles in early with strong winds, snow, slides
It's not winter yet. But it sure does seem like it.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Snow in the forecast
The weather was causing plenty of grief already with high winds sinking two boats at Kirkland Marina and a mudslide derailing a freight train Monday. Then evening snowfall on parts of the Puget Sound area made things worse.
Even though it is not yet officially winter — that will happen Friday — Tuesday morning's commute could be icy, forecasters say.
By 6:30 p.m. Monday, a blanket of snow and hail had fallen on Interstate 5, slowing commuter traffic in the Everett area.
The MyEverettNews blog described it as a "parking lot." The State Patrol had to help several vehicles stuck in the ice on the southbound side of I-5 near 41st Street and advised drivers to find alternate routes.
Snow was also reported in Edmonds and in Orting, Pierce County.
The National Weather Service issued a winter-weather advisory in effect from 10 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday for the Everett area, the eastern Puget Sound lowlands and western Skagit County. Snow accumulations of up to 3 inches were expected there.
A chance of snow falling as low as 400 feet in Seattle neighborhoods such as Queen Anne and Capitol Hill was also forecast overnight, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Michalski. The cold temperatures and possibility of the season's first snow in the city weren't giving him any holiday-season excitement, though.
"Personally, I'm not looking forward to it. Snow and ice have a huge impact on this city," said Michalski, who lives on Queen Anne.
Should there be snow in the city, it isn't likely to accumulate. The temperature in Seattle is expected to stay in the 30s all day Tuesday, with a high of 39 degrees and a low of 34.
Michalski said roads in Pierce and Snohomish counties and on the Eastside could be especially icy Tuesday morning.
The cold weather should last through Wednesday, then warm slightly, Michalski said. Not much precipitation is expected after Tuesday morning.
Before things got icy Monday evening, mudslides caused by oversaturated soil were already disrupting train service along Puget Sound.
After a Monday morning mudslide between Seattle and Everett canceled northbound train service, another mudslide derailed seven cars of a BNSF Railway freight train south of Everett.
The surface slide was on a 100-foot cliff that geotechnical engineers had been scheduled to check right after the 66-car train passed, according to BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas.
A BNSF-led crew of at least 50 people cleaned up some of the general merchandise that had spilled — products including soap, lemon juice, solvents and disinfectants.
Melonas said that although freight traffic should return to the tracks after the derailed train is removed by Tuesday, passenger service from Amtrak and Sound Transit will not be allowed through the area until at least 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Until then, Amtrak says, it will be busing northbound passengers from Seattle to Everett, where they will return to a train.
Amtrak is also busing southbound passengers from Seattle to Portland until at least Wednesday because of a slide early Monday between Olympia and Tacoma, spokeswoman Vernae Graham said.
Sounder passengers can find bus information on the transit agency's site at soundtransit.org/Schedules/Alerts.
Winds early Monday hit 60 mph on the Washington Coast and 55 mph in the South Puget Sound area, said meteorologist Ted Buehner in Seattle.
Winds brought tree limbs down on power lines. Seattle City Light had 11,000 customers out of service at one time. Puget Sound Energy had 17,000 outages, mostly in Southeast King County.
Winds knocked a tree onto a home in Lakewood, Pierce County, near where a 2-year-old was sleeping, but it missed the child's crib.
Winds also were blamed for two boats taking on water on Lake Washington at Kirkland, and the fire department helped two people sleeping on one of the boats, KOMO Radio reported.
Snow accumulations from the storm that started Sunday are likely to total 2 to 3 feet by Tuesday morning in the Cascades, Buehner said.
Information on driving conditions in the passes can be found on the State Department of Transportation website: wsdot.com/traffic/passes.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.