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Originally published February 6, 2014 at 9:26 PM | Page modified February 7, 2014 at 10:47 AM

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Cold temperatures shatter records in Seattle

Seattle narrowly avoided a snowstorm that swept into Southwest Washington and Oregon, but the city still recorded its lowest highs of any year for Feb. 5-6.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Though no significant snow was reported in the Seattle area Thursday, save for a few flurries, the below-freezing temperatures were cold enough to break a few records.

Seattle narrowly avoided a snowstorm that swept into Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon, but the city still recorded its lowest highs Wednesday and Thursday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The warmest temperature Thursday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — where Seattle’s official weather data are recorded — was 29 degrees — 8 degrees colder than the previous record set in 1949.

On Wednesday, the high was 31 degrees, a record from the high of 34 set in 1989.

“Temperatures have been below freezing,” said NWS meteorologist Johnny Burg. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some icicles formed.”

And they did.

Northbound Interstate 5 was closed in Seattle under the convention center for about 20 minutes Thursday afternoon so crews could remove an icicle about a foot long. Workers feared it would fall on a vehicle.

Another icicle under the Mercer Island Lid on Interstate 90 was more than a foot long, said Harmony Haveman of the Washington State Department of Transportation. Highway officials created a rolling slowdown so workers could break it off.

Throughout the area Thursday, water froze as it flowed in gutters and fountains.

As for snow, Seattle could see some flakes this weekend, but the most significant accumulations are expected south of Tacoma, Burg said. High temperatures are forecast in the mid- to high 30s on Friday and Saturday, with a balmy 41 on Sunday.

“We missed the brunt of it,” Burg said.

By Sunday, the cold Canadian air flowing into Western Washington is expected to ease. Rising pressure will allow the air mass to gradually moderate, and though there is a small chance of snow changing to rain, it likely will stay dry.

A warm front Sunday night or Monday will increase temperatures and bring rain over the lowlands, except in western Whatcom County, which may see snow accumulations Monday morning.

No matter what weather Seattle gets, it likely won’t compare to areas in Southwest Washington and the Eastern Cascades, which were under winter-weather advisories and warnings Thursday evening.

The system moving there was expected to produce 2 inches of snow over the southwest interior from Grand Mound and Centralia through Lewis County, with a similar system expected Friday night and Saturday morning, according to the weather service. Snow is possible from Olympia south.

Three inches of snow blanketed Vancouver, Wash., at 3 p.m. Thursday, according to the NWS. Wintry conditions and collisions caused backups up to 15 miles in both directions of Interstates 5 and 205 Thursday, according to the state Department of Transportation.

One person died and three others suffered critical or serious injuries in a snow-related pileup involving 15 cars and six tractor-trailers on I-5 in Clark County, the State Patrol said.

A blizzard warning was issued for the western Columbia River Gorge until 4 a.m. Friday, with forecast accumulations of 3 to 6 inches of snow and wind gusts as high as 65 mph.

In Salem, Ore., weather forced the Legislature to cancel committee hearings Thursday afternoon and all official business Friday.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2517 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com



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