UPDATE 1/16/20, 8:50 a.m.: Roads in Jefferson County are getting much better due to rising temperatures, according to Matt Stewart, Jefferson County road maintenance superintendent.
“We are working to push slush off of lanes and shoulders on main roads and applying salt and sand to remaining slick areas,” Stewart said in an email.
“We also have trucks working to clear non-priority/side roads, especially in Brinnon, Coyle and Quilcene.”
PORT TOWNSEND — About a foot of snow blanketed the southern parts of East Jefferson County and shut down several area roads, but some relief might be on the way.
After a round of wind that was expected Wednesday night, the chance of snow should taper off today and Friday, and high temperatures likely will be above freezing this weekend, said Kirby Cook, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.
“There are a few shots of precipitation here and there, but nothing significant,” Cook said of the outlook in Jefferson County for the rest of the week. “We’re probably really getting out of the threat of that as we get into Saturday and Sunday.”
South county was hit the hardest by the winter storms overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday with an estimated 12 to 18 inches of accumulation near Brinnon and Coyle, said Matt Stewart, the county’s road maintenance superintendent.
“Crews were out all night,” Stewart said, noting the impact was much less in Quilcene, Paradise Bay and areas to the north.
“We are continuing to run operations for the duration of the event with focus on primary roads and secondaries as accumulation rates allow,” Stewart said. “Non-priority roads can expect plowing after [Wednesday’s] forecasted additional round of snow or as resources allow.”
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reported by mid-afternoon that multiple roads were blocked or impassable due to stuck vehicles, and state Highway 19 was completely blocked at the Jefferson County International Airport.
State Highway 116 was closed between Chimacum and Flagler roads for about an hour in the afternoon, after multiple vehicles slid off the road due to adverse conditions.
Earlier in the day, the snow forced closures of both Brinnon and Quilcene school districts, although Port Townsend and Chimacum remained open.
Chimacum canceled after-school activities after snow picked up in the Tri-Area early Wednesday afternoon.
Port Townsend schools are delayed until 10 a.m. Thursday while the Brinnon School District is on a two-hour delay.
Snow accumulation near the water in Port Townsend was reportedly between a half-inch and 2 inches, Cook said.
That area was expected to see heavier snow Wednesday with a possible 2 to 3 inches of accumulation, he said.
Jefferson Transit updated its winter weather routes throughout the day. By mid-afternoon, it had suspended all routes due to road conditions.
For updated route information, visit www.jeffersontransit.com.
In addition, several Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry sailings were canceled due to high winds. Updated travel conditions can be found at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.
Cook said the strongest gusts could be as high as 40 to 50 mph and were forecast to hit the hardest between 6 and 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Winds were expected to decrease about midnight and weren’t expected to have an impact through the weekend, Cook said.
Stewart said his staff was ready to handle the storm.
“Public Works crews will continue to hit it with our full complement of equipment to maintain passable lanes, though warming temps in the next couple of days will clean up what remains,” he said.
In Clallam County, the city of Port Angeles won a dubious distinction: It had more snow than any other populated area in Western Washington, said Cook.
New snowfall totals in Port Angeles ranged from 15.2 inches near the Strait of Juan de Fuca to 20.2 inches in the higher elevations, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.
The Sequim area had between 5.6 and 8.0 inches of new snow. An official reading from the Forks area showed 5.5 inches.
Cold air from the Fraser River Valley pushing upslope against the Olympic Mountains contributed to the higher accumulations along the central Strait, Cook said.
“It was basically, for the most part, parked over the northern Olympic Peninsula. Everything was in the right spot to produce a fair amount of snow in the Port Angeles area.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].
Reporter Rob Ollikainen, Digital Content Editor Laura Foster and senior staff reporter Paul Gottlieb contributed to this report.