First snow, now cold.
Still, like a holiday-season gift, Clallam and Jefferson counties were spared any serious vehicle mishaps or injuries during the severe-weather weekend, North Olympic Peninsula emergency responders and law enforcement officials said Monday.
And warming centers were scheduled to go into full gear Monday in Clallam County for those whose health and safety are challenged by the low temperatures. They were already running in Jefferson County.
The Christmas evening snowstorm, which hit the Port Angeles area the hardest, will likely be followed by at least two days of 24/7 below-freezing temperatures in both counties, according to a National Weather Service forecast.
In Clallam, electricity was restored by Monday to most of the 13,000 customers who went without power at about 5 a.m. Sunday, mostly in the Sequim area. Clallam County Public Utility District workers were still fixing scattered losses Monday morning, spokesperson Nicole Hartman said.
“Our biggest challenge is the cold as they bring areas back [with] power,” she said, adding the difficulty is when customers turn on major appliances and heat all at once when electricity is restored, which could surge into another outage.
“Give it an hour after the power turns on so they can make sure the system holds,” Hartman advised.
The light snow that fell in Port Angeles on Monday morning was a small harbinger for Monday night, with up to an inch more expected there and perhaps Port Townsend, National Weather Service Meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch said.
“By the time we get into Tuesday morning, it should be pretty much out of the area,” he said of the white stuff.
DeFlitch said to expect temperatures in the upper teens to upper 20s into Thursday, when they should cross into the 30s.
Christmas night and Sunday morning snow accumulations ranged from 12 to 16 inches in Port Angeles, with more that 22 inches piling up the closer the yardstick was to the Olympics, he said.
In Sequim, it grew to 8 to 14 inches in spots, in Port Townsend to around 3 to 4 inches and to 6 inches in some places.
It was up to about 3 inches in the Forks-Quileute area and some 1-3 inches in Neah Bay, DeFlitch said.
Hurricane Ridge reopened Monday morning. Temperatures hit minus-4 degrees at 1 a.m. Monday and rose to 11 degrees by noon.
As of Dec. 22, before the snowfall, snowpack was 93 percent of the climatic normal level, park spokesperson Penny Wagner said in an email.
Brett Anglin, detective sergeant with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday a half-inch fell in Port Hadlock Sunday night.
“Most of the county roads are clear,” he said.
Anglin said outages were reported Sunday in Port Townsend and Cape George.
Jefferson County Public Utility District General Manager Kevin Streett could not be reached Monday for comment.
“The lack of wind certainly has been critical in this current storm in keeping trees off the roadways and power lines,” Anglin said.
Port Townsend Police Officer David Dostaler said the PUD was dispatched after a tree went down across the traffic lane in the 2600 block of Pennsylvania Place.
“Honestly, we’ve gotten off pretty scott-free compared to usual,” Dostaler said, adding he stopped a few drivers who were following too closely for road conditions.
Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron, the county’s emergency management director, said snow is forecast for Thursday, when the temperature is expected to hit the mid-30s. County road crews have kept roads driveable, he said.
“I’m a little worried about a Thursday snow event and a warm-up followed by rain,” he added.
Forks Fire Chief Bill Paul said there were six minor vehicle collisions over the weekend, including at Milepost 206 of U.S. Highway 101 involving a fire.
The driver, a man in his mid-20s, was transported to Forks Community Hospital as a precaution.
Paul’s biggest concern is with people who may try to thaw their pipes with heaters and open flames.
“I haven’t heard about anybody needing shelter or anything like that,” he said.
Kori Malone, Port Angles Police Department detective sergeant, said there were minor collisions such as vehicles off the roadway, a few calls about directions to warming centers, and residents calling 9-1-1 worried their power went off.
“We continue to ask people, if they don’t need to drive, to stay home as much as possible, and to call police for assistance for emergencies and calls for assistance,” she said. “With the weather and roads, some responses may be delayed.”
Daytime warming centers opened Monday by 1 p.m. at North Olympic Library System (NOLS) facilities in Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks and Clallam Bay.
NOLS Executive Director Noah Glaude said some opened late Monday to get parking lots cleared of snow.
Twelve people were waiting for the doors to open at 1 p.m. in Port Angeles.
Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) has a warming center in Port Angeles at 525 N. Fifth Ave. (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church) from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. until Friday.
Serenity House on West 18th Street in Port Angeles has expanded services and transportation available during the frigid weather and overnight facilities.
Executive Director Sharon Maggard said of 58 people at the facility Monday, four or five had sought overnight shelter from the cold, including a woman and her children on Sunday night. Staff also picked up some people in Lincoln Park, she added.
The city of Port Angeles was opening warming center at the Senior Center on Seventh and Peabody streets about a block from City Hall starting at 8 p.m. Monday through 7 a.m. today, and every day through Friday this week, Senior Center Manager Aubry Bright said.
Whether the overnight respite from the cold extends beyond Friday depends on how many people take advantage of it, she added.
Dostaler said daytime-hour shelter from the cold in Port Townsend is provided at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., and the Pope Marine Building near the Cotton Building. Overnight shelter is at the American Legion building, 209 Monroe St. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].