Winter weather coming to Peninsula

Accumulation could be up to 6-10 inches

A winter storm may be coming to the North Olympic Peninsula just in time for the holidays.

The National Weather Service in Seattle said Monday that an overnight system could bring nearly a foot of snow to Port Angeles, Sequim, Brinnon and Quilcene and an estimated 3 to 6 inches in Port Townsend.

“The heaviest snowfall will be in the Port Angeles area,” meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch said. “There is some uncertainty, but it will be somewhere between 6 and 10 inches. Should be a pretty significant snowfall event there.”

“Those areas in Jefferson County are a little more scattered but will likely get less than Port Angeles. The range we are looking at right now is about 3 to 6 inches in Port Townsend and a little heavier as you get down to Brinnon and Quilcene,” DeFlitch said.

Coastal areas such as Forks and Clallam Bay may see 1 to 3 inches of snow that will likely change over to freezing rain.

As of Monday afternoon, most areas on the Peninsula had reported less than half an inch of snow accumulation.

“We haven’t really got any reports from the last 12 hours, which usually means there hasn’t been much accumulation,” DeFlitch said. “Some areas have seen up to an inch, but nothing beyond that.”

Those intending to travel for the holidays may want to rethink their plans as this is only the first of two storms forecast to hit the Peninsula.

The National Weather Service is reporting a second system moving in Wednesday night through Thursday morning that could bring additional snow and freezing rain to the region as well as drop temperatures down into the teens and single digits at night.

Undersheriff Ron Cameron, the manager of Clallam County Emergency Management, is urging holiday travelers to stay off the roads when they can.

“We’ve put out some information to our operational leaders throughout the county that we have 60 percent chance of 6 to 10 inches of snow between now (Monday) and 10 p.m. Tuesday,” he said. “We are putting out as much information as we can about staying warm, and really want people to stay off the roads if they don’t have to be there.”

Cameron added he’s concerned about the weather later in the week with the potential for freezing rain and ice on top of the snow.

“I’m more concerned about that than I am about the snow itself because that can have a tendency to be really damaging, causing power outages and things like that, so we are keeping a close eye on that,” Cameron said.

The City of Port Angeles had crews out late Monday night and will have crews out early Tuesday morning salting, sanding and plowing the roads, according to interim Public Works Director Mike Healy.

“We have all of our snow plows ready to rock,” he said. “We have our sanders and salters all ready. We have crews ready to go at different times when needed. We are ready to go.”

The below-freezing temperatures also pose significant dangers to those in the community who are unhoused.

“Any time between now and Thursday, we are going to be seeing some extremely cold temps, particularly overnight, and the wind chill is going to be really low as well, so there is a huge concern for our homeless population,” Cameron said. “So we are trying to get as much information out about warming centers across the county as we can. We have lots of places that will accommodate during the day. It’s the overnight hours we are concerned about.”

Serenity House in Port Angeles and St. Luke’s Church through Olympic Community Action Programs in Sequim are offer overnight shelter.

Although Jefferson County may not get hit as hard, Willie Bence, director of the county’s emergency management department, said road crews will be out and ready.

“Our roads crews will be out salting and prepared to plow the roads when and if needed,” he said. “We aren’t expecting as significant of snow event here, but it will be pretty darn cold.”

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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