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Weather likely to stay cold through Saturday, but sun could help clear ice, snow

More snow causes hazardous driving in Whatcom County

Overnight snow greeted Whatcom County drivers Monday morning, Dec 12, 2016, causing hazardous driving conditions.
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Overnight snow greeted Whatcom County drivers Monday morning, Dec 12, 2016, causing hazardous driving conditions.

Cold conditions will keep the snow on the ground for a while, but don’t expect anymore to fall any time soon, weather experts said Tuesday.

Temperatures will hover around freezing through Saturday, said Josh Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle. Highs will stay in the low 30s, with lows dipping into the low 20s, he said.

“Cold and dry are the words for this week,” Smith added.

The cold weather is expected to accompany mostly sunny days, meaning it’s hard to forecast road conditions for the rest of the week, Smith said. But what’s already on the ground is likely to refreeze over the next several nights.

That forecast follows some sporadic snowfall that began Friday morning. By that afternoon, Deming had reported seeing 3 inches, Smith said. Snowfall ebbed through the weekend until late Sunday and early Monday, when as much as 4.5 inches fell in Sudden Valley, 4 inches just south of the Mount Baker Highway’s intersection with Everson Goshen Road.

About 2.5 inches of snow were reported northeast of Bellingham’s city center Monday, Smith said.

The conditions led every Whatcom County district to cancel classes, and numerous collisions were reported along Interstate 5 before 9 a.m. Monday.

Nooskack Valley School District have already said they planned to start school two hours late on Wednesday morning, with buses on snow routes. Meridian School District also will have a two-hour late start Wednesday; evening bus service canceled.

Several Whatcom County schools canceled classes Tuesday morning as the snow and ice remained packed on roads, making travel for school buses and others hazardous. Schools in Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lummi Nation and Meridian schools closed Tuesday and others – including Lynden, Lynden Christian and Nooksack Valley – started two hours late, with buses on snow routes. Mount Baker schools started on time.

Among private schools, Assumption Catholic, St. Paul’s Academy, and Whatcom Hills Waldorf School did not hold classes Tuesday.

Jim Frey, superintendent of Lynden schools, said he and other administrators typically keep an eye on weather forecasts and are out on the roads by 4:30 a.m. to check conditions. Custodians start shoveling and applying deicer to sidewalks when they come in, and local contractors plow parking lots. Frey decided to cancel classes Monday because an overnight snow did not leave enough time to get that done, but they were ready for Tuesday’s conditions.

“You have safety concerns for the people who are driving to work and have to ask can the buses go out on the road,” he said. “There are a number of circumstances to consider.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

Jim Donaldson: 360-715-2288

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/.

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