View of a Bellingham snowfall from atop the Herald Building
Every Whatcom County school district canceled classes Monday after an overnight snowfall left roads treacherous.
There already were numerous vehicle collisions, rollovers, jackknifed semis, and disabled cars on city streets and Interstate 5 reported as of 8:50 a.m. There were no serious injuries. And reports of motorists slipping and sliding on the roads continued throughout the day.
Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lummi Nation, Lynden, Meridian, Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley were closed and after-school activities were canceled. Nooksack Valley announced Monday that its schools will start two hours late Tuesday.
Bellingham Christian and Lynden Christian schools, and Whatcom Discovery Center also were closed, as well as Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College. The colleges had earlier announced a two-hour delay, but revised it later in the morning.
All Whatcom County Library System branches were closed, including its administrative service center. Regular branch library hours are expected to resume Tuesday. For updates, go to WCLS.org.
The runway at Bellingham International Airport was shut down at 12:42 a.m. as freezing rain and snow became an issue, said Mike Hogan, spokesman for the Port of Bellingham. He said the freezing rain created a sheet of ice that was up to three-quarters of an inch thick in places. Visibility also was an issue in the morning when the snowfall was the strongest.
“Crews were scrambling to de-ice the runway as well as clear off the snow,” Hogan said.
The runway reopened at 2:19 p.m. According to the airlines’ respective websites, three Horizon/Alaska flights were canceled, as well as four Allegiant flights (to Las Vegas, Oakland, Palm Springs and Phoenix). Some flights also were delayed. For flight status, updates, go to flybli.com.
Whatcom Transportation Authority’s buses ran as scheduled Monday, but some routes encountered a few delays. Buses are expected to run their normal schedules Tuesday. To stay updated, go to WTA’s website, schedules.ridewta.com/ or call 360-676-7433.
The closest official snowfall measurement was recorded 2 miles east-northeast of Bellingham – 2.5 inches from 6 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., said Josh Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Freezing conditions are expected later this week, when overnight lows will dip into the teens.
But at least there’s not going to be any snowfall.
“We don’t have a chance of snow for the rest of the week,” Smith said. “It will be cold, clear and dry for the rest of the week.”
Daytime highs until Saturday are forecast to be in the lower to mid-30s.
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management and Whatcom County Public Works are advising residents that while it has stopped snowing, overnight temperatures are expected to drop, which means roadways will remain dangerously slick for the next 24 to 36 hours.
Whatcom County Public Works, along with its counterparts in Bellingham and other cities, will continue to run 24-hour operations “to keep ahead of conditions,” said John Gargett, deputy director of emergency management with the sheriff’s office.
“The biggest problem facing the community will be ice on the roads and in the north County, the possibility of drifting snow, although winds are expected to ease over the next 24 hours,” Gargett said in a news release Monday afternoon.
The Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center will continue to monitor conditions in the area “and will be issuing updates as appropriate or needed,” Gargett said.
This story was updated Dec. 15.
The Bellingham Herald senior editor/news John Mangalonzo and business reporter Dave Gallagher contributed to this report.
TIPS FOR DRIVERS
▪ Clear your windshield and all vehicle windows before driving.
▪ Drive only when you really need to.
▪ Use slower speeds and accelerate more slowly.
▪ Allow extra time to reach your destination.
▪ Use your headlights (even if you can see well; lights help other drivers see you).
▪ Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s winter driving page at wsdot.com/winter/.