PORT ANGELES — Things are about to get wet on the North Olympic Peninsula as snowfall is expected to transition into rain at lower elevations.
Snow began to accumulate Monday afternoon in many areas across the North Olympic Peninsula and was expected to continue overnight Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
A winter weather advisory was issued for Monday along the coast and east from Joyce while a winter storm warning was issued for areas along the Hood Canal and areas between Joyce and Clallam Bay along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said NWS meteorologist Kirby Cook.
Cook said 1 to 2 inches of snow were expected Monday afternoon and another 1 to 5 inches of snow were possible overnight before snow transitioned into rain at lower elevations.
“The whole eastern Strait, from Port Angeles east into Port Townsend, is going to remain snow through [Monday] evening and then transition to rain after midnight, especially near the water,” Cook said.
He said people Tuesday could see snow showers above 300 to 500 feet. Wednesday is expected to be the next break in precipitation before another system arrives Thursday night into Friday.
He said when that system hits snow levels should be higher.
“Some places will still see some snow,” he said. “Snow will be at the higher elevations and rain at lower lower elevations late in the week.”
The ongoing snow led to Gov. Jay Inslee expanding a state of emergency. On Monday, the declaration was expanded to include exemptions for commercial drivers delivering runway deicer and wing deicer to facilities and airports throughout the state.
The snow has continued to create problems across the the North Olympic Peninsula, causing a number of wrecks and making it difficult for first responders to access homes.
State Highway 112 was reduced to one lane between Joyce and state Highway 113 on Monday afternoon.
“All roads are treacherous,” an alert from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said.
On Monday at about 1 a.m., crews from Clallam County Fire District No. 2 were sent to a medical emergency on Lake Dawn Road near Hurricane Ridge Road, but they could not reach the residence due to 3 feet of snow.
Firefighters began digging a trail through the snow by hand before discovering a snow blower at the home, which they used to carve a trail wide enough for the ambulance gurney and medical personnel.
“The fire district has increased staffing during the snow events and relocated fire apparatus to best meet the needs of the citizens during this unprecedented winter storm,” Chief Sam Philips said in a news release. “Firefighters remind people that during these winter storm events some response times and access will take a little longer to get to them.”
Later in the day fire crews responded to another medical event on South Shore Road near Lake Sutherland, where firefighters were greeted with a .75-mile-long road with 2 to 4 feet of snow, said Assistant Chief Jake Patterson.
“A lot of the private roads haven’t been touched,” he said. “The county road department said they couldn’t get their trucks up the road to plow it.”
He said with the help of an off-road club, crews were able to get the patient to the ambulance.
Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron said his top concern as the snow transitions into rain is the amount of weight on rooftops.
A roof collapsed Monday near Sequim, underscoring his concern, he said.
“I’m worried about more of that happening because of the weight of the snow on some roofs and if it starts to rain it’s going to increase the weight on roofs,” he said.
Cameron is urging people with flat or low-pitch roofs to clear their roofs if possible or hire someone to do it.
Closures and delays
Snow has led to the closure of schools Tuesday in the Sequim, Port Angeles, Quilcene, Chimacum, Brinnon, Port Townsend, Crescent, Quillayute Valley and Cape Flattery school districts.
Queen of Angels School and Quileute Tribal School are also closed.
All Peninsula College locations are closed Tuesday.
Olympic Medical Center was operating at “essential levels” Monday, meaning Olympic Medical Physician clinics were open, including OMP Walk-in clinics in Port Angeles and Sequim. OMC is asking people to follow Olympic Medical Center on Facebook for regular updates during the storms.
It was announced Monday night that Port Angeles City Hall will be closed Tuesday. Essential functions and services will continue to operate. City residents should continue to limit driving and use alternate routes to avoid hills or problem areas, according to the bulletin. Updates were to be posted on the city’s website at https://www.cityofpa.us.
The Sequim Civic Center is expected to open at 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to a press release Monday.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].