A pedestrian walks past a line of snow-covered vehicles on the lot of Randy’s Auto Sales in the 800 block of East First Street in Port Angeles on Tuesday. A small amount of overnight snow added to previous snowfalls that began on Christmas Day along most of the North Olympic Peninsula. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A pedestrian walks past a line of snow-covered vehicles on the lot of Randy’s Auto Sales in the 800 block of East First Street in Port Angeles on Tuesday. A small amount of overnight snow added to previous snowfalls that began on Christmas Day along most of the North Olympic Peninsula. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Crews clear roads as additional snow forecast

Deep freeze expected to relent on Saturday

Road crews on Tuesday worked to keep up with new snowfall that fell Monday night on thoroughfares throughout the North Olympic Peninsula as the National Weather Service predicted more snow overnight today into Thursday.

“It’s going to be interesting over the North Olympic Peninsula,” said meteorologist Carly Kovacik at the National Weather Service in Seattle on Tuesday.

“It looks like there’s a better chance for snowfall” on Tuesday night, she said. “You guys will be the lucky winners and get an inch or two,” followed by perhaps another 4 to 6 inches overnight today into Thursday in Port Angeles and Sequim and 2 to 3 inches in East Jefferson County, with less on the Pacific Coast.

Windier conditions than have been the norm during this storm also are expected.

Crews in Clallam and Jefferson counties have been working to plow, salt and/or sand roadways since the Christmas Day dump, fueled by arctic air from the Fraser Outflow in British Columbia that left some areas with a foot and a half of snow.

A brief temperature rise over freezing is expected Thursday, but the best time to make a grocery run or take care of other chores, for those doing their best to stay off icy roads, will be Saturday and Sunday.

Weekend temperatures are forecast to spring into the 40s, with precipitation turning into rain, before they dive under freezing again next week.

By this weekend, the region will have “typical winter weather,” according to Kovacik.

“We just need to get through the week,” she said.

By that time, ice and snow on some roads will have melted rather than been plowed as crews are forced into do-overs after fresh snowfalls, according to some.

“Last night’s snow” — up to 2 inches — “set us back to starting with primary and secondary roads again,” said Matt Stewart, road maintenance superintendent for the Jefferson County Public Works Department.

“We were hoping that we could get onto residential roads on Tuesday,” Stewart said.

The county’s fleet of bigger trucks were turning back to clearing arterials — again — while the three smaller trucks focused on residential areas, with one in Port Townsend, another in Port Ludlow and a third in Brinnon and Quilcene.

All Clallam County roads had been plowed at least once, even the smaller ones, by nightfall Sunday, said Ross Tyler, county director of Public Works and county engineer.

County crews plowed about 1,000 lane miles in 12 hours after the major snowfall on Saturday, Tyler said, so even though more has fallen since then, roads have remained passable.

“It’s not like Snowmageddon,” he said, referring to a massive snowstorm that hit the Port Angeles-Sequim areas especially hard in 2019. “Because it snowed heavily Saturday night, then paused on Sunday, the crews got the roads knocked out in one day.”

Nevertheless, Clallam County crews have not stopped plowing since then, he said.

“It’s no use taking the plows or sanders off” the 12 snowplows and several dump trucks the county is using.

“They are spending eight to 10 hours a day plowing and sanding.”

The city of Port Townsend has had two shifts working 10 hours each using a total of four plows on the roads, said Steve King, the town’s Public Works director.

The streets are well-plowed but still icy, he warned.

In Port Angeles, Public Works Director Thomas Hunter said crews had cleared most arterials — a priority to ensure emergency vehicles have access — and were beginning work on residential streets on Tuesday.

Port Angeles has four snowplows and limited staff to maintain 311 lane miles, Hunter said.

“This snow event is not one we get frequently,” he said, although admitting it seems to be more common in recent years.

“We’re not built to handle these things on a regular basis.”

The 4-to-6 inches of additional snow forecast tonight “is lining up to be potentially quite troublesome,” Hunter said.

The warming trend on the weekend will mean that the stormwater system will need to handle both snow melt and rainfall, he noted.

Then another freeze is expected.

“We’re in for another week and a half of fun,” Hunter said.

Tyler said his crews are prepared for whatever happens.

“Bring it on … we’re always ready.”

Information was not available on Tuesday from the cities of Sequim and Forks.

________

Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

To keep warm, birds such as this American robin fluff their plumage to trap air between their feathers. This one withstood temperatures in the teens this week in Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

To keep warm, birds such as this American robin fluff their plumage to trap air between their feathers. This one withstood temperatures in the teens this week in Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Nick Harper, left, and Elliot Mull, both 9, hurtle down High School Hill in Port Townsend on Tuesday afternoon. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Nick Harper, left, and Elliot Mull, both 9, hurtle down High School Hill in Port Townsend on Tuesday afternoon. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Nick Harper, left, and Elliot Mull, both 9, hurtle down High School Hill in Port Townsend on Tuesday afternoon. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Nick Harper, left, and Elliot Mull, both 9, hurtle down High School Hill in Port Townsend on Tuesday afternoon. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Snow covers the top of the observation tower at Port Angeles City Pier on Tuesday as a person and their dog enjoy the chilly view. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Snow covers the top of the observation tower at Port Angeles City Pier on Tuesday as a person and their dog enjoy the chilly view. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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