Northwest in deep freeze after storm blows through


by KING 5 News

Posted on November 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 23 at 8:09 PM

SEATTLE – The sun is shining, but the aftermath of Western Washington's first big storm of the season continues to cause problems around the region.

Roads remain icy and treacherous throughout the area, and abandoned cars dot the highways and side streets.

The Washington State Patrol reported that in King County alone on Monday, troopers responded to 305 collisions and 405 disabled vehicles, mostly on Interstate 5, I-90, and I-405.

Statewide, troopers responded to 1,557 collisions and 1,274 disabled vehicles.

This morning, the WSP launched a Cessna aircraft equipped with a Forward Looking Infra-Red camera to search for occupied disabled vehicles in King, Pierce and Thurston Counties.

Metro Transit reports that 200 buses were stranded during the storm.

KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott says the low that gave us the snow yesterday has dropped southward, but it's helping to pull cold air out of the interior of British Columbia through the Fraser River Canyon, covering Western Washington with a blanket of frigid air.

Marriott says temperatures were in the upper teens and low 20s at mid-morning but winds have died down in most areas, ending the wind chills that were brutal earlier. At the peak winds, the wind chills were from 10 to -5 degrees. Winds gusted into the 40-50+ mph range overnight

Check the forecast

"Although the skies are mostly sunny, the highs will mostly be in the low to mid 20s," said Marriott. "It will be clear and cold tonight with lows in the teens - this should be the coldest night this week."

Marriott says Wednesday should be mostly sunny early but a weak front brushing the area will bring increasing clouds and a chance of a few snow showers later in the day and overnight, especially north of Seattle. It will be little warmer with highs in the 20s to near 30 degrees.

"On Thursday, a front off the coast will spread a chance of a little light snow to Puget Sound late in the the day, but then becoming mixed with or changing to rain," he said.

Nightmare commute Monday evening

Blowing snow, slick roads and temperatures in the mid-20s turned the Monday evening commute in the Puget Sound region into an hours-long crawl -- for those who made it home. Some commuters gave up after being stuck for five hours or more and returned to their offices, or just left their cars at the side of the road.

Have you gotten help from a Good Samaritan during the Arctic blast? Share your story on the KING 5 Facebook page.

The worst area Monday night was southbound I-5 from Seattle down through the Duwamish Curve in Tukwila. Some people were at a standstill for at least six hours because of two collisions. It wasn't until about 11 p.m. that the Washington state Department of Transportation was able to open two lanes.

Send us your weather photos

One of the drivers stuck in that was a woman named Brandi, who is seven months pregnant. She said some people got out of their cars to stretch their legs. She said after five hours, she was still 23 miles to go to her home in Federal Way.

In Seattle, where residents were watching closely for improvements after the 2008 debacle, several side streets were shut down. In some cases, that wasn't enough as demonstrated by this video of one car sliding into the back of another. Some people in West Seattle gave on trying to navigate the hills and just parked their cars.

This morning Seattle's morning rush hour wasn't, with few cars on the icy roads and motorists keeping it slow. Snowplows and deicing trucks were at work across the state. Most schools in the state were closed or delayed and the University of Washington closed all three of its campuses. Click for information on closures

Roads blocked, bus routes canceled

Early this morning, Metro transit canceled 14 routes because of icy roads and abandoned cars blocking roadways. All other buses are operating on snow routes and riders should expect them to be crowded and significantly delayed. Bus riders should check for the most current status.

Mason Transit suspended all of its Mason Transit Routes and Dial-A-Ride services. The transit company will update the situation at about 10:00 a.m.

Sound Transit was reporting a few bus route delays on its website.

Community Transit has rerouted several of its buses. Riders should check for information.

The icy conditions are having an impact on Alaska Airlines. Alaska says treacherous road conditions from the snowstorm are preventing many of its employees from getting to work at Sea-Tac Airport. That's affecting a number of Alaska Airlines flights. Passengers are strongly advised to check before going to the airport to determine whether their flight is delayed or has been canceled. 

Check your traffic

At Sea-Tac Airport, a cargo plane overshot the icy runway by about 100 feet. While it still remained on pavement, it was enough for the airport to place a ground delay on incoming flights, delaying them by as much as four hours.

Garbage pickup may be delayed. There will be no service for Waste Management residential or commercial customers in Bremerton, Port Orchard or other parts of Kitsap County on Tuesday, Nov 23.

Service was delayed Monday in parts of King, Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties. If you did not receive service, please remove containers from the street.Click here for more information from Waste Management.


Some people in Seattle took the time to enjoy the storm. Toni Del Rio & Randy Leslein had some fun on a sled.