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Thousands without power as snow and ice storm hits region; several schools cancel Monday classes

Snow report from Lynden, Wash., Feb. 5, 2017

Bellingham Herald journalist Jim Donaldson reports on snowfall and closures in Lynden, Wash., Feb. 5, 2017.
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Bellingham Herald journalist Jim Donaldson reports on snowfall and closures in Lynden, Wash., Feb. 5, 2017.

Lowland Whatcom County sparkled in silver and white Sunday morning, the result of an overnight snow and ice storm that hit northwest Whatcom County particularly hard, even as high winds and more snow threatened to wreak further havoc Sunday night and into Monday.

Snowfall on Saturday night and Sunday varied drastically across Whatcom County, from at least a foot in the northern lowlands to about an inch in downtown Bellingham, observers said.

Classes for Monday were canceled Sunday at schools in the Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack Valley, Mount Baker and Meridian districts, which are among the areas that received the worst of the overnight storm. Monday classes also are canceled for Lynden Christian and Bellingham schools.

North to northeast winds of 25 to 35 mph – and gusts to 55 mph – were forecast overnight Sunday into Monday, with the areas of greatest concern around Lynden, Ferndale and the Lummi Peninsula.

About 3,500 Puget Sound Energy customers remained without electricity at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the PSE online outage map. Most were in scattered small outages, primarily in the lowlands and foothills north and east of Bellingham, and most were blamed on falling trees and limbs.

But some 2,400 PSE customers were affected by three large outages that stretched from Acme north to Kendall and east to Maple Falls and Glacier. Most of those residents had been without power since about 1 a.m. Sunday, and their estimated restoration time was midnight.

More than 7,000 PSE customers were without power across Whatcom County about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, including about 2,400 customers in Lynden. Power to the affected Lynden area was restored by 7:15 a.m. Some 1,300 customers were without power during an outage that started at 11:30 a.m. along Guide Meridian in the Laurel area, and their power was restored by early afternoon.

“I think every tree in my yard has fallen,” said Amber Nicole Coffey, who lives on Kelly Road north of Bellingham.

Some churches in Lynden, Birch Bay and other affected areas canceled Sunday services, according to various social media posts.

Residents of the east county lowlands around Everson and Nooksack were reporting more than a foot of snow since Saturday afternoon. In Sudden Valley, about 2 inches of slushy snow covered the ground as heavy rain fell in southern portions of the county. Lake Louise Road was slushy but passable, and drivers were having little trouble on main roads in Bellingham, observers said.

Some 3 feet of snow has fallen in the past two days at Mt. Baker Ski Area, which was open Sunday morning. In the backcountry, an avalanche warning had expired, but the danger remained high above the treeline and considerable below the treeline, according to the Northwest Avalanche Center.

Light snow resumed about 8 a.m in many areas of Whatcom County, residents said in messages to The Bellingham Herald Facebook page.

“Birch Bay (has) 5 inches to 6 inches of snow, my car is a sheet of ice. Haven’t been out so don’t know about roads,” said Barbara Quist-Charbonneau.

“Main roads plowed, side roads not at all. But all are icy,” said Linda Taylor of Lynden.

“Custer has about 6 to 7 inches and lots of drifts starting to accumulate,” said Katy Harrison. “No side roads had been plowed at 8 p.m. last night.”

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service posted a winter weather advisory that remains in effect until 4 p.m. Monday, calling for additional snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches. Heaviest snowfall Sunday night was expected south of Whatcom County, the weather service said.

A wind advisory posted by the National Weather Service in Seattle will be in effect until noon Monday. Northeast winds of 25 mph to 35 mph – with gusts to 55 mph – are expected to blow from British Columbia. Areas of highest concern are Lynden, Ferndale, Cherry Point, Bellingham and the San Juan Islands.

A chance of snow is forecast before 10 a.m. Monday, which is expected to shift to snow showers after, according to the National Weather Service. The high Monday will be around 34 degrees.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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