EVERETT — Neighbors on Rucker Hill knew just what do with the piles of snow that several recent storms had dumped on the region as the weekend approached. Build an igloo cafe block by block, then add coffee and pastries.
The igloo cafe was still a gathering point on Monday as about a dozen drank coffee and chatted while sleds and snowballs whizzed by. Kids and adults crawled in and out of the ice shelter.
“I think it’s a masterpiece,” said Cheri Lamaine, who lives adjacent to Rucker Hill Park. “It’s helped us meet new neighbors.”
The ice block haven may stick around for a while, offering a place of respite for those temporarily displaced from jobs and schools as forecasts threatened heaps more snow and cold.
As of Monday afternoon, Snohomish County was expected to get up to another 8 inches of snow in places. And while temperatures will warm slightly, meteorologists suggested it will be a while yet before white will be taken away from the county’s color palette.
Once again, schools were canceled throughout the region, and government agencies closed early or entirely. Several school districts announced closures for Tuesday, as well.
So, when there’s nothing else to binge on Netflix, a little creativity is in order. One of the founders of the igloo cafe, Gene O’Neil, said word spread fast about the project on Saturday, attracting dozens of willing workers.
They were assigned roles. Some constructed the individual blocks by filling recycling bins with snow, and using water to solidify the product. Others used loose snow to fill in the cracks between the blocks.
When completed, after about four hours, the shelter was 5 and a half feet tall and 5 feet wide.
Between 125 and 150 bricks were used, O’Neil estimated.
“It was a fiasco at the end,” said volunteer Earl Martin.
As the group was finishing the roof, the bricks kept sliding off, he said. Volunteers used water to harden the walls.
The igloo was finished as the sun sank. The next day, O’Neil was back, armed with coffee and baked goods.
More snow ahead
How long the cafe lasts depends on the weather. Two competing air masses could be meeting in Snohomish County, National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Michalski said. While a warmer current from the south was expected to bring rain to Seattle, cooler winds blowing through British Columbia could save Everett from the same slushy fate — at least for now.
It’s possible, Michalski said, that a convergence zone could form over Snohomish County, causing even heavier snowfall.
But, he warned, the forecast should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt. Predicting snow in Western Washington’s lowlands is hard enough, but this storm has been especially tricky, he said.
After Tuesday, there may be a dry reprieve before the next system moves in Thursday evening. With potentially warmer temperatures, that system could bring a mix of rain and snow.
But temperatures may not be warm enough to get rid of what’s already on the ground.
“What we’re not seeing is a big, rapid warmup,” Michalski said.
Snow falls, trash rises
Like snow, garbage may take a while to get rid of, too. It’s been piling up at homes and businesses because of the treacherous weather.
Rubatino Refuse Removal managed to collect curbside bins in Everett on Monday after missing last week, though that was only for residential trash service, not recycling or yard waste.
“We are working today and have asked our crew to work Tuesday and will, unless it is just not safe for our employees and our neighbors,” owner Ed Rubatino said.
The company was providing limited service to businesses. Updates are available at rubatino.com.
Some households had missed their second straight week of trash pickup from Waste Management.
“We will collect triple the amount at no extra charge, on your next regular collection day,” the company said on its website.
Waste Management posts daily updates at www.wmnorthwest.com/weatherboard.html.
The company serves Arlington, Marysville and Mill Creek, Mukilteo, Stanwood and some unincorporated areas.
Republic Services also missed pickups Monday. The company serves part of Edmonds, plus Lynnwood, Monroe and Snohomish, Sultan, Woodway and some unincorporated areas.
Republic Services posts updates on http://local.republicservices.com/site/washington/.
Roads still risky
Road conditions have kept the Washington State Patrol especially busy. In the past week alone, the agency reported 366 crashes on Snohomish County’s freeways and highways. That’s compared to 145 collisions during the same time last year.
Trooper Heather Axtman chalked up the surplus to people driving too fast for the conditions. Even if a sign says 60 mph, she said, it doesn’t mean people should drive that fast in the current weather.
The best option is to not drive at all, Axtman said, but she understands that’s not an option for everybody.
“If there’s something you must make, then take it slow. Give yourself that extra time to get you to that location,” she said.
Drivers will have to exercise patience, as clearing streets is a major undertaking.
Take Everett, for example. Up to nine plows have circled the same streets seemingly endlessly, clearing as much loose snow as they can while dumping sand and salt on the harder-to-get compact ice.
Sunday had the appearance of a big day in the street maintenance realm. Plows cleared every major and secondary arterial. They even got the luxury of working on some residential streets.
Then, in the last hour and a half of the daytime shift, that progress was erased as streets were covered in a fresh layer of powder.
“Today was beginning to feel like we were stuck in the movie Groundhog’s Day,” street maintenance supervisor Mike Hale lamented in a Sunday night report.
Reporter Noah Haglund contributed to this report.
Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; email@example.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.