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Friday morning snowfall is only the beginning of a wet weekend in Whatcom County

Friday morning snow dusts downtown Bellingham

A snow flurry dusts downtown Bellingham Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. The snow is expected to turn to rain on Saturday and Sunday before turning back to snow Sunday night into Monday, weather experts said.
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A snow flurry dusts downtown Bellingham Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. The snow is expected to turn to rain on Saturday and Sunday before turning back to snow Sunday night into Monday, weather experts said.

On the heels of Friday morning’s snow, a winter weather advisory was in effect for western Whatcom County until early Saturday, and more snow is forecast later this weekend.

The moisture comes from precipitation bands off the Oregon coast and from central British Columbia, said Allen Kam, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Saturday’s daytime temperatures, expected to hover in the upper 30s and low 40s, are likely to only allow for rain through Sunday afternoon, Kam said.

But a cold-air outflow from the Fraser Valley likely will give way to more snow Sunday night and into Monday, he said.

It was unclear how much snow had accumulated across the county Friday morning, Kam said. A flurry dusted downtown Bellingham but ended before 9 a.m. By the afternoon, much of that had melted.

In Bellingham, crews used deicing liquid on dry pavement Thursday evening to prevent freezing on shaded side streets, said Eric Johnson, the city’s assistant public works director for operations. More workers were out at 5 a.m. Friday, using three plow trucks and four sanders.

Crews will be on duty around the clock, with others on call, through the weekend, Johnson said.

“We’ll monitor the weather pretty closely and we’ll deal with these issues as they come up,” he said. “But we’re prepared.”

County crews had also shifted back to around-the-clock winter schedules to keep rural roads clear and dry, said Roland Middleton, a county public works spokesman. Nearly 30 trucks, equipped with plows and sand, had been on the roads and were on standby through the weekend, he said.

“This is just winter for us,” Middleton said. “We just go into a different mode ... and we do it every winter.”

Despite the preparation, Friday’s slippery roads led to a spike in vehicle crashes, Bellingham police Lt. Danette Beckley said. It was hard to say just how many crashes dispatchers were sending emergency responders to, she said, but there were “way more” than usual.

The snow and ice also led to a brief closure at Bellingham International Airport, according to a post on the airport’s official Twitter account about 8:45 a.m. Friday. The runway was open less than an hour later.

Residents who come across slick roadways are encouraged to call the public works crews. Bellingham callers can dial 360-778-7700; for county road issues, call 360-778-6400.

“One thing we really appreciate is people calling us for issues they’re seeing both during regular hours and after hours,” Johnson said. “We can’t obviously respond to every location immediately, but it’s helpful to know what’s going on in the community by putting 90,000 pairs of eyes on it.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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