Ryan Wetterlund clears snow from his work vehicle as snow continued to fall Monday morning. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Ryan Wetterlund clears snow from his work vehicle as snow continued to fall Monday morning. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

North Olympic Peninsula wrestles with first lowland snowstorm of winter

Closures, delays, wrecks follow system influenced by Fraser Outflow

Residents across the North Olympic Peninsula spent Monday dealing with the first real winter storm of the season, which led to school closures, delays and wrecks.

The National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning for the North Olympic Peninsula Monday morning that had called for up to five additional inches of snow over what fell Sunday, but lifted that warning at about 1 p.m. Monday as snowfall ceased and the sun came out.

Logan Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said areas south of Port Angeles saw as much as 8 to 9 inches of snow in total, while there was less at lower elevations. Snowfall had started as early as Sunday morning in some areas.

In Jefferson County most areas had two to six inches, with the greatest accumulation about 10 miles southwest of Port Townsend.

Sequim saw about 3 to 6 inches, he said.

“Temperatures are going to stay cold for the next couple days, so whatever snow [did] fall, it’s not going anywhere,” Meteorologist Kirby Cook said.

He said the cold is caused by a Fraser Outflow as cold winds flow through the Fraser Canyon in Canada.

“It stays colder longer and because of the wind direction, it helps enhance snowfall,” he said

Cook said temperatures should sit in the 20s during the day and drop to the upper teens overnight in the next few days. Things will likely stay dry until Thursday, when there’s another chance of snow.

He said temperatures might have warmed up by then and while meteorologists are moderately confident there will be precipitation, they are not yet sure what type or where it will happen.

While it was chilly at lower elevations Monday, the National Weather Service said Hurricane Ridge was sitting at about 6 degrees with a wind chill approaching minus 20 degrees.

“Expect cold temperatures overnight and through the day [today],” Cook said. “We could see refreezing on the road and icy conditions well after the snow stops. Folks should take care and remain aware of the forecasts.”

Trooper Chelsea Hodgson said most of the wrecks that have happened on highways along the North Olympic Peninsula happened overnight Sunday on U.S. Highway 101 near mileposts 274, 299, 264 and 270.

Of the eight wrecks reported, two of them involved people who were driving under the influence, she said. While some wrecks had reportable damage, most were single-vehicle spin-outs with no injuries.

“The biggest thing is people need to watch their speeds,” Hodgson said. “That’s the No. 1 reason people are ending up in ditches.”

She said to increase following distance and be aware that just because crews have treated one section of road doesn’t mean that others have been treated.

“You need to stay alert to potential changing weather conditions,” she said.

Closures

The snowfall prompted school districts across the area to cancel or delay classes Monday. Peninsula College also closed all of its campuses.

For today, Sequim School District has a two-hour delay and morning preschool is canceled.

Chimacum School District said there will be no preschool today and that school is on a weather-delay schedule.

Oliver Foster, 3½, plays on the toys at Pope Marine Park in Port Townsend during sub-freezing temperatures Monday afternoon. His dad, Zach Foster, said Oliver wanted to walk into town and play on the slide. Water Street was far from bustling midday, with snow and ice covering some streets. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Oliver Foster, 3½, plays on the toys at Pope Marine Park in Port Townsend during sub-freezing temperatures Monday afternoon. His dad, Zach Foster, said Oliver wanted to walk into town and play on the slide. Water Street was far from bustling midday, with snow and ice covering some streets. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Power out

The snow also knocked out power for more than 1,000 Jefferson County Public Utility District customers Monday, but most had power restored by the afternoon.

Jefferson PUD spokesperson Will O’Donnell said there were trees down in multiple areas throughout the county that had knocked down wires.

“There were no automobile-related outages that I know of,” he said.

He said PUD crews started work at 5 p.m. Sunday and continued through Monday until a relief crew came in.

“They’ve been doing their best, braving the snow and cold,” he said.

Cancellations

The Clallam County commissioners canceled their morning Commissioners Conversation meeting Monday.

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce announced that Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony at 7 Cedars Casino was postponed. For more information, visit www.7cedarsresort.com.

Also, Monday’s presentation on the opioid epidemic in Clallam County with the county’s Department of Health & Human Services was canceled.

Clallam County PUD added an extra advanced meter workshop, in addition to the two that were scheduled for Monday. The additional workshop is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. next Monday in the Lake Crescent Boardroom at the Carlsborg main office at 104 Hooker Road.

The Sequim School District Board of Directors rescheduled its Monday meeting to today at 6 p.m. at 503 N. Sequim Ave.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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