Weather forecasters are urging drivers to be extra careful Thursday morning because icy conditions will persist as temperatures drop below freezing overnight.
Officials at the National Weather Service in Seattle issued a statement Wednesday afternoon warning that black ice is possible overnight on roadways across Western Washington.
Temperatures in the mid-30s were expected overnight under clear skies. Freezing fog is also possible, forecasters said.
“Temperatures vary widely over a short distance, so you can drive into an area of freezing temperatures and icy roads suddenly and without warning,” the weather service said in a statement.
Black ice was blamed for a multi-vehicle crash that closed southbound Interstate 5 for about an hour Wednesday morning, officials said.
Trooper Heather Axtman of the Washington State Patrol said four cars spun out and crashed about 6:20 a.m. in southbound I-5 a the Nooksack River bridge.
“Initially, it was one car,” Axtman said. “But as the trooper was on scene there were four additional cars. They were all spinouts. It was full of black ice. They ended up closing the freeway until (the state Department of Transportation) could get there and sand.”
Traffic was backed up more than three miles, officials said.
Two ambulances took patients to St. Joseph hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening, officials said.
Dispatchers warned responding police and fire units that the freeway over the bridge was covered in black ice.
Traffic was moving slowly about 7:30 a.m., according to traffic cameras on the freeway and a WSDOT tweet.
Temperature at Bellingham International Airport was 29 degrees at 5:53 a.m. Wednesday.