SHINE — A nearly 50-mile section of U.S. Highway 101 between the intersection with state Highway 104 and Hoodsport was reopened to through traffic at 1:30 p.m. Thursday after a snow and wind storm closed it Sunday night.
Now agencies are switching attention to the possibilities of more snow and wind gusts in East Jefferson County as well as a new threat, especially in Clallam and Mason counties — flooding.
Crews with public utility districts in Jefferson and Mason counties and with the state Department of Transportation removed fallen trees and debris and plowed snow to clear Highway 101.
Maintenance crews “estimated in the hundreds” the number of trees that had fallen on power lines during the storm, Tina Werner, DOT spokesperson, said Thursday.
Predictions of freezing rain and additional snow had day and night crews pre-treating the highway on Thursday and overnight into today, Werner said.
They also are making sure catch basins are clear in light of rain forecasts adding to snow melt.
“We’re monitoring for flooding now,” Werner said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep our highways open and clear” amid “serious standing water concerns.”
According to the National Weather Service, the heaviest rainfall through Saturday is predicted for Clallam County, especially on the West End.
“The Bogachiel River will be one of primary concern during the watch period,” the National Weather Service said.
Minor flooding is expected along the Hood Canal around high tide, the weather service said.
Will O’Donnell, Jefferson PUD spokesperson, said flooding is more of a concern in Mason and Clallam counties this weekend.
What is most worrisome in Jefferson County are predictions of high winds.
Gusty winds are likely on the western edge of Admiralty Inlet, the weather service said.
The gusts could blow around unsecured objects and blow down tree limbs.
“We could be in for more outages,” O’Donnell said. “We hope not.”
Jefferson County PUD reported a peak of 3,000 people who had lost electrical power in Sunday’s storm.
By 3 p.m. Thursday, the outages were down to 83 customers, mostly on the Toandos Peninsula, which was the hardest hit by the storm.
Those are not likely to have power restored until today or perhaps even Saturday because of additional snow that fell overnight Wednesday, O’Donnell said Thursday.
“There is so much snow and so many lines down,” O’Donnell said, adding that, with several inches of new snow, some areas of the Toandos Peninsula had a total of a foot and half.
Mason County PUD 1, which serves Brinnon at the southern edge of East Jefferson County, had expected having all customers back online by Thursday.
Many public schools on the Peninsula — including Port Angeles, Sequim and Quilcene — delayed the first class on Thursday because of icy roads, and Brinnon remained closed as it has been since Monday.
Off the Peninsula, Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades was closed Thursday due to high avalanche danger, zero visibility and blowing, drifting snow.
Stevens Pass on U.S. 2 was also closed due to heavy snow.
Snow and ice closed Blewett Pass on U.S. 97.
Heavy rain and snowmelt brought flooding concerns in western Washington and Oregon as the latest atmospheric river moved into the region, according to The Associated Press.
The National Weather Service said Yakima could get 6 to 8 inches of snow through 4 p.m. today, with Ellensburg possibly getting up to a foot.
Steve Bodnar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane, said Wenatchee could receive 20 inches of snow Thursday, with nearby Leavenworth receiving 22.5 inches.
At least 4 inches of snow fell early Thursday in Spokane, and the snow was expected to turn to freezing rain by Thursday afternoon, the Weather Service said.
Numerous school districts in Spokane County canceled classes Thursday, while others delayed the start of classes.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].