Schools around Whatcom County canceled classes for a second consecutive day Tuesday, and many roads remained treacherous as up to 6 inches of new snow fell Sunday and Monday across areas of Whatcom County already hard-hit by the weekend’s one-two punch of an ice storm and heavy snowfall.
Classes were canceled Monday at schools in the Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Lynden Christian, Nooksack Valley, Mount Baker and Meridian districts. Those districts announced their Tuesday closures on Monday afternoon. Most school activities were canceled or rescheduled. Whatcom Discovery Center also is closed Tuesday.
Fewer than 1,500 Puget Sound Energy customers remained without power Monday afternoon, down from nearly 7,000 PSE customers who lost electricity as freezing rain and heavy snowfall toppled trees, limbs and power lines Saturday night and Sunday.
Most of those who remained without power Monday afternoon were some 1,200 customers in the Acme, Mosquito Lake Road and Glacier areas whose power has been out since Sunday. PSE was staging crews in Whatcom County in response to numerous weather-related power outages, according to Whatcom Unified Emergency Management, a combined city-county agency.
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A small craft advisory was posted for Salish Sea waters until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
A chance of snow, or a mix of snow and rain, is likely for Tuesday and Wednesday. Rain was forecast for Thursday, with a high near 50 degrees.
“It’s going to stay a little colder, but the significant snowfall should be over,” said meteorologist Gary Schneider at the National Weather Service office in Seattle. Flooding could become a concern Thursday with such a quick thaw, Schneider said. Freezing rain is possible Wednesday night, according to the forecast.
“It could be a bit of a messy transition Wednesday,” he said. “The rivers are going to be rising.”
Meanwhile, city, county and state public works road crews have been working around the clock to keep main roadways clear of snow.
Snowfall totals varied widely across Whatcom County, with the northern lowlands along the Cascades foothills getting hit the worst.
Exact measurements were difficult to determine because of blowing and drifting snow, residents said. Schneider said the weather service’s observers in those areas didn’t submit their observations.
The Bellingham Herald readers offered anecdotal reports that showed Everson, Nooksack, Sumas and Kendall received the heaviest snowfall – as much as 2 feet or more. Blaine, Birch Bay and Ferndale all received about 3 to 6 inches, observers said. Downtown Bellingham received about 1 inch of snow Sunday and about 2 to 3 inches Monday. Sudden Valley residents saw 1 or 2 inches Sunday and another 3 to 5 inches Monday.
Snow depth totals at the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network – whose observers are vetted by meteorologists – supported the anecdotal claims from all locations across Whatcom County.
Western Washington University, Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College were closed Monday because of the weather. There was no information Monday night whether the three schools will have classes Tuesday.
City of Bellingham and Whatcom County offices, including all services and courts, were operating as normal once staff members arrived Monday morning, officials at various offices said. Offices at smaller cities around Whatcom County, including Lynden, Everson, Nooksack, Sumas, Blaine and Ferndale, were open as normal.
Bellingham Public Library was open Monday, but some activities were canceled, officials said. Everson Library and Sumas Library will be closed Tuesday because of inclement weather, library officials said.
At Bellingham International Airport, the runways were clear, and there were no delays reported.
Many roads in northern Whatcom County had compacted snow and ice Monday morning, though Whatcom County Public Works crews kept main roads clear. Strong northeast winds caused drifts up to 5 feet deep in some areas northeast of Bellingham. Cars stuck on snow-covered roadways also posed problems for snowplow drivers.
Washington Department of Transportation closed East Badger Road for several hours between Guide Meridian and Highway 9 because of drifting snow, and Mount Baker Highway is expected to be closed until at least dawn Tuesday past Glacier because of 30 to 40 fallen trees, a DOT official said.
Mt. Baker Ski Area was closed Monday but plans to open Tuesday with normal midweek hours at its lower White Salmon area. In the North Cascades backcountry, avalanche conditions remain at the considerable level above and below the treeline for the western slopes north of the Skagit River to the U.S.-Canada border.
The Bellingham Herald’s Jim Donaldson, Julie Shirley, Dave Gallagher and John Mangalonzo contributed to this story.