State of Emergency declared in deadly ice storm

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 20 at 12:20 AM

SEATTLE -- Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a State of Emergency Thursday after snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures gripped the state. Nearly 300,000 people were left without power.

The governor's declaration means she may mobilize the National Guard.

A 60-year-old man backing his ATV out of a shed was hit by a falling tree and killed near Issaquah. King County Sheriff's deputies say the weight of snow and ice on the tree made it come down. First responders had to dodge falling branches when the arrived.

 "We just got a handle of all of the collisions since [Wednesday] and now were facing a whole other issue...we're getting trees down all over the place," said Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill.  "We have troopers running around with chainsaws in their patrol cars cutting trees off of I-5...we probably responded to at least 10 or so trees blocking I-5 and that's just the mainline."

KING 5 meteorologist Jeff Renner said areas of freezing rain will continue up and down the Puget Sound region, eventually changing over to rain late Friday afternoon.  

Friday will bring warmer weather, an increasing chance of rain and temperatures in the mid 40's with more rain forecast for the weekend. The warm up brought concerns about urban flooding. Residents are urged to check their storm drains for any clogs.

Following the record snow, some regions were hit with freezing rain, coating everything under it with a layer of ice. Sea-Tac Airport had to shut down its runways for a time. Two semi trucks crashed on iced-over freeways early Thursday morning.

Sea-Tac Airport reported that the layer of ice forced them to shut down all three runways around 5:30 a.m. They were working to de-ice them, one at a time, but several airlines were already reporting cancellations. Check your flight status

Accidents were being reported on roads across the region. Drivers were being warned to drive slowly and have an emergency kit and blanket in their cars in case they get stuck.  The Washington state Department of Transportation says that two of its workers were injured Thursday.  One worker was injured in an accident on Interstate 405 near I-5 north of Seattle when a passing car slid and hit him while he was assisting another car on the side of the road.

Another problem Thursday was trees coming down under the weight of the snow and ice, blocking roads and taking down power lines. Nearly 300,000 customers across the region, most of those with Puget Sound Energy, were without power Thursday. Some customers may not get their power back until Saturday. Power outage contact information

"It's like a storm in slow motion that keeps happening again and again," said PSE spokesman Roger Thompson.

Most garbage collection was canceled again Thursday. In most cases, sanitation companies will collect double the trash on the next collection day.

Snow accumulations varied Wednesday, with the South Sound getting hit the hardest. Olympia received a foot of snow, while parts of Lewis County got 17 inches.

The Washington State Patrol said Wednesday that it had responded to over 2,300 collisions on Washington roads as of 9 a.m. Thursday.  In Pierce and Thurston counties alone there were over 400 accidents.

"I saw a guy in my rear mirror," said Gill. "I saw headlights and taillights and headlights and taillights again as he spun around off the road."

Most school districts, including Seattle, closed schools Thursday. Check out our full list of school closures and delays in the region.

Transit agencies had most of their buses on snow routes. Many buses on Wednesday got stuck trying to go up and down hills. If you need to catch a bus on Thursday and your stop is on a hill, your best bet is to go to the top or bottom of the hill. In addition, Light Rail and Sounder commuter trains were running late due to mechanical issues related to the cold.

Check your routes: Sound Transit; Metro Transit; Pierce Transit; Community Transit

According to KING 5 meteorologists Jeff Renner and Lisa Van Cise, between 1.8 inches to 17 inches of new snow accumulations were recorded around the Puget Sound region Wednesday. Here are some of the totals, sorted by county:

  • Island:  Coveland 7.5", Langley 7.1", Camano Island 6", Coupeville 4.5", Oak Harbor 4"
  • King County: Kent 9.8", Federal Way 5.5", Woodinville 5" Issaquah 4.3", Sea-Tac 4.2", Shoreline 3", Bellevue 2", Seattle 2"
  • Kitsap:  Olalla 5", Poulsbo 4"
  • Lewis: Chehalis 17", Winlock 16"
  • Mason: Shelton 11", Belfair 7.5"
  • Pierce: Orting 8", Tacoma 7.5", Puyallup 6", Parkland 4.8"
  • Thurston: Grand Mound 15", Olympia 14", Lacey 13", Yelm 12"
  • San Juan: Mount Constitution 9", Friday Harbor 6.5", Lopez Island 1.5"
  • Skagit: La Conner 5", Convrete 3.6", Anacortes 3.5", Mount Vernon 2.5"
  • Snohomish: Lake Stevens 9", Stanwood 8.7", Lynnwood 5.5"
  • Whatcom: Bellingham 1.8"

KING 5 viewers shared their photos of how much new snow they received in their backyard.

Has your route been plowed? Check the City of Seattle map

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