Cold snap poised to end on Peninsula — but that's midweek; till then, snow?
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Christie Johnston, left, and Hannah Raphael of Johnston Farms fend off the cold as they serve customers at their vegetable stand at the Port Angeles Farmers Market on Saturday. Afternoon temperatures were sub-freezing. —Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

Mother Nature has not quite released her icy grip on the North Olympic Peninsula just yet.

Close-to-freezing temperatures and even the possibility of snow are still possible in the coming days, forecast the National Weather Service, as cold air pushed south from Canada continues to envelop the region.

Josh Smith, a Weather Service meteorologist based in Seattle, said recent temperatures in the teens and 20s are some of the coldest the North Olympic Peninsula and Western Washington have seen in three years.

“This is maybe a once-in-a-few-years event, temperatures this low,” Smith said Saturday.

Low as in between 13 and 15 degrees, including the wind chill, in Forks on Friday night.

It didn't quite reach 20 degrees in Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend, either.

Conditions for the most part have been cold and dry, Smith said, though the Forks area and other spots along the West End reported as much as 3 inches of snow Thursday and Friday.

Such conditions were responsible for the Saturday closure of the Clallam Bay branch of the North Olympic Library System, library officials said.

The chill will probably end this coming week with rain and temperatures rising to the low 40s, Smith said — but not before a chance of snow Monday evening on most of the North Olympic Peninsula.

The dropping mercury has produced few, if any, emergency calls.

For example, 9-1-1 dispatchers for both Clallam and Jefferson counties reported no calls about burst water pipes in the past few days.

Claudia Bingham Baker, Olympic region state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said state road conditions have stayed relatively good throughout the big chill.

“No one knows of any accidents or incidents that have occurred,” she said Saturday.

“I'm not hearing of any problems at all.”

State road crews were out in force earlier this week across the North Olympic Peninsula pretreating road surfaces with salt to help combat ice that never really came, Bingham Baker said.

One clear effect of the recent cold snap has been an uptick in business reported by outdoor-clothing and general stores across the North Olympic Peninsula.

Many reported runs on most anything to keep one's home and body warm.

“It's pretty darn busy, which is great,” said Mike Nichols, night manager for Swain's General Store in Port Angeles.

Nichols said Saturday that portable heaters, candles and materials to insulate water pipes against the cold have been especially popular.

In the clothing department, gloves were “flying out the door” as other types of warm gear, such as hats and coats, were selling almost as well, Nichols said.

“We're probably two to three times busier with cold-weather gear than we normally would be,” Nichols said.

Brian Menkal, owner of Brian's Sporting Goods and More in Sequim, echoed Nichols' sentiment.

“Business has been very brisk on hats, gloves, thermals, just warm anything” Menkal said.

Menkal said he relied on this year's Farmer's Almanac, which predicted a cold winter, when ordering clothing for the season.

“We brought in a lot of cold-weather gear in preparation of this,” he said.

On the West End, Forks True Value Assistant Manager Dave Breithaupt said the cold weather has brought in customers seeking materials, such as salt and ice melt, to clear icy driving surfaces, though he also said road conditions have not been that bad.

“The county crews and the city crews were on top of things,” he said.

In Jefferson County, employees at Hadlock Building Supply had to order more covers designed to protect outdoor spigots from freezing temperatures.

“We were ransacked for our Styrofoam faucet covers,” employee Samantha Miranda said Saturday.

“We went through a case of those, [and] our warehouse is actually out.”

Miranda added: “We're going through hand warmers like crazy.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 07. 2013 7:09PM
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