PORT ANGELES — Temperatures climbed into the mid-40s on the North Olympic Peninsula on Friday and Saturday, melting much of the snow that paralyzed the region last week.
Snow was measured in feet in many locations in eastern and central Clallam County, while the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport set a snow record in February with 20.2 inches, said Kirby Cook of the National Weather Service in Seattle.
The Weather Service said lighter snow accumulations are possible in the Peninsula lowlands Tuesday.
Cook cautioned that the confidence in the long-range forecast was low.
“Temperatures will remain marginal,” Cook said Saturday.
The recent snowfall was “right up there” with the winter storm that hammered the region in December 1996, said Ron Cameron, Clallam County undersheriff and Emergency Management director.
“It pretty well matches with ‘96, but we’ve been very fortunate with the slow warm-up,” Cameron said.
Rapid warming after the storm 22 years ago collapsed roofs and caused widespread flooding, Cameron recalled.
“Now were getting a nice thaw,” he said. “That’s kind of what what we want.”
About two feet of snow fell in downtown Sequim last weekend and up to three feet — or more — was reported in the higher elevations. Port Angeles took the brunt of the 1996 storm, Cameron said.
An 85-year-old Sequim-area man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center on Monday after a roof collapsed on him, Clallam County Fire District No. 3 officials said.
The man, who was not identified by authorities, had been cleaning snow around his house on Sturdevant Road when a porch roof collapsed, pinning his leg.
The Sheriff’s Office received no other reports of residences that collapsed under the weight of the snow.
Cameron said he was unaware of any deaths in Clallam County directly attributed to the snow.
Cameron said the biggest challenge with the snow was the early afternoon commute Feb. 8.
U.S. Highway 101 was closed for plowing at Morse Creek on Feb. 8, creating a backup that extended several miles into the city of Port Angeles.
“It was bad,” Cameron said. “There was no doubt about it.”
Peninsula public school district cancelled classes for up to a week because of continued inclement weather and difficult driving conditions.
The Clallam County Emergency Operations Center was open last weekend. It fielded requests for information about services.
“Unfortunately, we’ve just got to kind of put up with it,” Cameron said of the winter weather.
“We don’t get it that often. We just meet the challenge.”
Cameron said the winter weather brought out the best of many who helped their neighbors.
“It was neighbor helping neighbor,” Cameron said.
Clallam County Search and Rescue teams spent the week helping stranded citizens with services ranging from trips to kidney dialysis appointments to firewood deliveries, said Brian King, chief criminal deputy of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
Among the stories of neighbors helping others is that of Christy Wright, a home health nurse who was stranded in her residence off Deer Park Road for much of the week. She received a helping hand from the Washington Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program administered by the state Department of Ecology.
Wright and her husband, John, were unable to clear the snow that had piled up around their house and driveway.
Four young women from the Washington Conservation Corps got word their predicament and showed up Friday with shovels in hand, she said.
The energetic crew cleared several feet of snow from the front porch steps. They removed a pile of snow that had fallen off a roof near their garage and dug a trail out to their driveway, Christy Wright said.
“They helped a whole lot,” said Wright, who was able to leave her house for the first time in a week Friday.
“For that I was very grateful.”
Christy Wright said a member of her church had contacted the Washington Conservation Corps about her need for snow removal.
“I was hoping it would be a tractor with a snow plow,” she joked. “It was four girls with shovels.”
“They were just so cheerful,” Wright added.
“I tried to give them a tip, but they said they could not accept anything. They had such a positive attitude about everything.”
Washington Conservation Corps members, who are 18 to 25, earn a living allowance and an AmeriCorps scholarship to use for education or paying off student loans, according to Ecology.
Pete Allen of the Washington Conservation Corps said members normally work year-round as a state Department of Natural Resource-sponsored trail crews.
The crews could not get to their normal sites last week because of the snow, so they were allowed to work in town, Allen said Friday.
“It was a great opportunity,” Allen said.
“They had a great time doing it.
“There’s a couple crews out there roaming around,” Allen added. “But yeah, they’re fantastic youth, young adults doing great work out there.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].