The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a winter weather advisory for western Whatcom County from noon Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday, when more snow is expected.
Snow was forecast near the 500-foot level Friday afternoon, then at the 200-foot level in the evening. Snow fell on Bellingham most of the day Friday.
Whatcom County’s Unified Emergency Coordination Center issued an alert for icy conditions for Thursday night into Friday morning, and cited challenging road conditions in the eastern part of the county as well as at Lake Samish and around Chuckanut Mountain and Sudden Valley.
The Acme/Kendall areas experienced ice pellets mixed with snow, turning to snow as the day progressed, said John Gargett, deputy director of emergency management, in an email.
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Blaine, Birch Bay and most of the coastal areas of Whatcom County dealt with a snow/rain mix, Gargett added.
The high Saturday is forecast to be in the upper 30s, with a 40 percent chance of snow. Saturday night will see a 20 percent chance of snow, with lows in the upper 20s.
Christmas Day will be mostly sunny with a forecast high of 36 degrees and mostly cloudy in the evening, with overnight lows in the upper 20s. Monday will bring a 20 percent chance of snow, with a high of 37 degrees.
For those traveling on Interstate 5, both northbound lanes south of Bellingham near milepost 248 will be closed between 8 and 9 a.m. Saturday so crews can clear rocks following a landslide that ended at the shoulder this week. The Washington State Department of Transportation said the closure is along a quarter-mile stretch between North Lake Samish (exit 246) and state Route 11 (Old Fairhaven Parkway, exit 250).
WSDOT expects to keep traffic restricted to a single lane for about a week, said spokeswoman Andrea Petrich, but could open that lane earlier if the work is completed sooner.
For those heading to central or western Washington, state Route 9 is a possible alternate route. Drivers can get real-time traffic information on their mobile devices with the WSDOT traffic app or by tracking the WSDOT north Twitter feed and can get advanced information from the local highway construction page.
Numerous weather-related crashes were reported Friday, but there were no indications the crashes involved serious injuries. Whatcom County Public Works was out sanding county roads; Bellingham Public Works crews also were out with their equipment. Public Works agencies countywide are monitoring the weather and taking measures as appropriate, Gargett said.
Officials are advising motorist to be mindful of others using the roadways, and leave extra time for traveling. Here are a few tips:
▪ Clear your windshield and all vehicle windows before driving.
▪ Drive only when you really must.
▪ 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.