As Washington state prepares for another snow storm this week, officials are warning people in affected areas to change their weekend plans to avoid dangerously slippery roads.
Seattle is expected to get four to six inches of snow Friday afternoon through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. The plows are out, some school districts are closed and officials are urging residents to stay home.
“It could be really challenging. Might start thinking about adjusting your weekend plans if possible,” the Washington Department of Transportation said in a statement. ” … If heavy snow is falling, there’s only so much we can do and it will affect roadways. Roads will be slick, bridges/ramps/overpasses will be icy, collisions will increase and traffic will be challenging.”
Although the latest prediction is lower than the previous forecast of up to a foot, the Washington State Department of Transportation says conditions will still be dangerous.
“At these low temperatures, even if a road appears to be clear, it could be icy,” WSDOT said. “Other than not traveling at all, there is no better way to be safe in these conditions than lowering your speed and being cautious.”
The storm is affecting some planned activities, with a Friday appearance by Michelle Obama at the Tacoma Dome postponed to next month.
“With the snowstorm on its way into Tacoma, my biggest priority is making sure everyone stays safe — and that’s why we’ve decided to postpone my tour event to March 24th,” Obama tweeted. “I can’t wait to see you all next month, and in the meantime, stay warm and be safe out there!”
Freezing temperatures and powerful winds
Over 12 million people in the Northwestern US are under winter weather alerts. Seattle, which averages 6.8 inches of snow over the course of an entire year, is under a winter storm warning.
If Seattle does reach the predicted six inches of snow, it will only be the fourth time the area has seen that much since 1991.
The winds expected to accompany the storm could cause issues with blowing snow, as well as downed power lines and trees. The wind gusts could reach anywhere from 20-30 mph in the Seattle area, while the northern Puget Sound and Olympics region could see gusts of 60 mph.
Temperatures will drop below freezing Friday night and won’t get back above 32 degrees until Sunday.
Those temperatures, combined with the wind, could make it feel like it’s in the teens Saturday across the Seattle region.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s a possibility of more snow for Seattle Sunday into Monday.
Several school districts in the Seattle metropolitan area are closing early Friday because of the threat of winter weather.
Seattle, Kent, Tacoma and Mercer Island are among the districts that have announced early release for students and faculty.
Earlier this week, another storm shut down Seattle and left some neighborhoods with about half a foot of snow.
Seattle Public Schools first announced Monday that classes would start two hours late for its 53,000 students. “But as the snowfall increased, it was determined that roads were too challenging with ice and snow,” spokesman Tim Robinson said in an email.
More than 12,000 people were without power in Washington state due to snow-related outages.
The Department of Transportation said numerous spinouts were reported on interstates, and Interstate 5 through Seattle was shut down at times for snow removal and because of wrecks.