Ice chunks force closure of Tacoma Narrows Bridge


by KING 5 News

Posted on January 20, 2012 at 6:27 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 20 at 8:24 PM

UPDATE: The Washington State Patrol reopened the Tacoma Narrows Bridge shortly after 6:30 p.m. Friday. Traffic is reduced to the center lanes of each direction due to the ongoing danger of ice falling from suspension cables. The bridge was closed at 11:55 a.m. Friday. the last time the bridge was closed from ice was December 1996.

SEATTLE --Temperatures are gradually warming in the Puget Sound region, but the snow and ice related problems continue to plague the region. Both Tacoma Narrows bridges were closed Friday due to falling ice, causing a 7-mile back-up.

 The bridge will remain closed until the safety concern has passed. The last time the bridge was closed for ice was Dec. 27, 1996. It was closed for wind in November 2008.

Hundreds of trees lay across SR 18, SR 410 and SR 202. Power lines, phones lines and trees were across SR 900 near May Valley Road. Maintenance crews from Bellingham and Everett have shifted to SR 18 and SR 410 to support crews already working to clear a path.

"Temperatures are mostly upper 30's to low 40's now," said KING 5 Chief Meterologist Jeff Renner. "We're seeing rain virtually everywhere except western Whatcom county."

 Renner said that a Flood Watch is in effect for most of the interior of western Washington through Saturday afternoon due to melting snow and incoming rain. Read full forecast
The region may be thawing, but many people are still without power in the biting cold. Nearly 300,000 customers across the region, most of those with Puget Sound Energy, were still without power Friday morning. Some customers may not get their power back until Saturday.  Power outage contact information

Most school districts, including Seattle and Tacoma, canceled or delayed classes Friday. Seattle Public Schools announced a snow make-up day on Friday, Jan. 27. No school was scheduled for next Friday, a professional development day for staff, but instead will be used as a make-up day for one of the three snow days this week.

"It is important to get our students back in the classroom next week," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield. "We know some families may have made out-of-town plans for next Friday, and we apologize for any inconvenience this causes."

Sea-Tac Airport re-opened all of their runways Friday after a layer of ice forced the airport to shut down all three runways Thursday.  Due to the closure, there's a significant backup of flights and several flights were still canceled. Air travelers are advised to call ahead and check the status of flights.

Also, several Sounder commuter trains have been canceled or delayed and transit agencies have most of their buses on snow routes.

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

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

"The pictures our crews are taking in the field are pretty amazing," said Dave McCormick, regional maintenance manager for WSDOT. "They sure have their work cut out for them."

 "This is highly unusual," said Troy Cowan, regional maintenance manager for WSDOT. "But nothing about this storm has been typical."