As snow melts, roofs collapse and power lines snap

Meanwhile, winter continues to be merciless in Darrington, where three feet of snow has fallen.

Snow in Monroe collapsed the roof at a recently built water filtration plant run by the city of Everett. (City of Everett)

Snow in Monroe collapsed the roof at a recently built water filtration plant run by the city of Everett. (City of Everett)

MONROE — For most parts of Snohomish County, the snowfall has stopped. But the heavy, wet snow that remains is causing power outages, and in Monroe collapsed the roof at a recently built water filtration plant run by the city of Everett.

The damage was discovered by workers completing a routine check just after 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to Kathleen Baxter, a spokeswoman for Everett’s public works department.

Testing done Tuesday showed the water was safe to drink, Baxter said.

More testing is being done, and the city is in contact with the state’s Department of Health, Baxter said.

The plant was completed in August 2018. Everett’s water utility serves about 75 percent of Snohomish County. The plant has two water storage tanks that work in tandem, one of which remains undamaged, according to a statement sent out by the city Tuesday afternoon. Even if one tank is offline, the city has enough available water to serve its customers.

“This is a very low use time,” Baxter said. “This is the best time of year for this to happen.”

Agencies are bracing for additional impacts, as precipitation turned into rain throughout the Western Washington lowlands Tuesday.

Most school districts, including Everett, Marysville and Mukilteo, will be closed Wednesday.

The National Weather Service expected warmer temperatures to continue, with highs potentially clearing the 40s by the end of the week. Wednesday may offer a break in the clouds, before rain moves through the area again starting Thursday.

The thaw brings new dangers. The National Weather Service warned that whatever melts during the day could refreeze at night — particularly Wednesday, which could see a low of 19 degrees. Adding water and ice to snow could also cause tree limbs to crack, roofs to collapse and power lines to snap.

National Weather Service meteorologist Courtney Obergfell couldn’t say whether this week would mark the end of snow in February. Temperatures are still projected to be below normal, she said, and more systems are moving through the area next week.

“We can’t rule out the possibility,” she said.

The change in weather meant all hands on deck for crews with the Snohomish County Public Utility District on Monday night.

“Our guys have been battling outages all night. It’s been one step forward, two steps back,” said Aaron Swaney, a PUD spokesman Tuesday. “We’ve seen more outages in the last 24 hours than in the last week combined.”

At the height, nearly 10,000 households were without power Monday night as 32 crews scrambled to restore electricity, according to Swaney.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, roughly 3,500 homes were experiencing a power outage, according to the PUD outage map.

Over the weekend, the county didn’t have too many outages, Swaney said.

“Monday into Tuesday, the heavier snow and the accumulation of snow, we saw more limbs break and trees fall,” he said.

People should stay at least 30 feet away from any fallen power lines and report downed wires to the PUD by calling 425-783-1001.

That number also can be used by customers to report an outage. Reports also can be made online at the agency’s website — www.snopud.com.

“With the snow turning into rain, we might just be at the tail end of the high number of outages,” Swaney said.

Meanwhile, along the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Darrington continues to be buried by snow. Mayor Dan Rankin said they’re looking at about three feet of snow, and it just won’t stop falling.

“It would be a warm welcome to have it stop for six hours,” he said. “That would be really cool.”

He couldn’t help but to laugh at the situation. He said the town is making do. There are only two government-owned plows and they’re struggling to keep up, Rankin said. Residents have stepped up and pitched in with their own equipment.

“We’re quickly running out of places to put snow,” Rankin said.

Residents are no stranger to difficult weather, but they’re not immune, Rankin said. A lot of people have hunkered down in their homes, while some have taken to traveling via cross country skiing.

Children were given three days off in a row, a rare gift from the Darrington School District. Rankin, who grew up in the town, said he rarely saw school called off because of weather, as much as he dreamed otherwise.

It’s only a matter of time, though, until Darrington thaws, too. Rankin said he’s concerned. Adding ice to three feet of snow could cause a lot of damage, he said.

“I think a lot of us, especially the town staff, really worry about the second shoe to drop, so to speak,” he said. “We’re preparing for that.”

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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