A person shovels snow away from their car tires as snow falls on Dec. 20, 2022 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A person shovels snow away from their car tires as snow falls on Dec. 20, 2022 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cold snap left at least 1 dead in Snohomish County

The deceased woman, 76, was found in a parked car outside a Walmart on Highway 99. She was about a mile from a cold weather shelter.

LYNNWOOD — One woman is confirmed to have died in one of the coldest storms in Snohomish County history, authorities said.

On Dec. 21, the woman, 76, was reportedly found in a parked car in the Walmart parking lot at 17222 Highway 99. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Friday the woman died of environmental hypothermia.

The Walmart is just a mile away from the cold weather shelter at Maple Park Lutheran Church at 17620 60th Avenue West.

“That is so close,” said Lisa Utter, chair of that shelter’s board. “That is tragic.”

During the first of two winter storms that brought snow to Snohomish County last month, Utter told The Daily Herald that the shelter had been near the 23-bed capacity most nights. The county’s cold weather shelters generally open when low temperatures are forecast to be below 34 degrees.

On Dec. 21, the high only reached 25 in Lynnwood, according to Weather Underground. The low dropped to below 16 that night. The day before, the low was 29.

The shelter hosted upward of 30 guests Dec. 21, Utter said Tuesday. A few days later, there were 40 people there. A second person was also found dead due to the cold just days later, Utter said, though the official cause had not been confirmed by the medical examiner’s office as of Tuesday.

As need increased, the shelter had to open up more spaces to expand capacity. It hasn’t turned anyone away due to space constraints this season, Utter said.

Those most at risk for hypothermia include older adults with inadequate food, clothing and heating, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other at-risk groups include babies in cold rooms and individuals who remain outdoors for long periods of time, like unsheltered people or hikers.

When someone is exposed to the cold, their body begins to lose heat faster than they can produce it, according to the CDC. A lengthy exposure will eventually use up the energy their body stores, lowering body temperature. When that happens, it affects the brain, making it hard to think clearly or move easily. That means a person may not be able to do anything about their condition.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees.

When people arrive at the Lynnwood church, they get screened for COVID. That includes a temperature check, Utter said. One person has come with a 90-degree temperature. Another at around 94 degrees. When that happens, staff wrap guests with blankets and give them hot liquids.

On the night of Dec. 21, an estimated 169 people were sheltered across the county’s cold weather facilities in Lynnwood, Everett, Snohomish, Monroe and Marysville, said Tyler Verda, human services program planner for the county.

The extreme weather can be dangerous.

“This has been a cold winter so far and we are concerned about what happens if that continues,” Utter said.

In the summer of 2021, which included a dreadful heat wave, 157 people died across Washington. Of those, 15 were in Snohomish County.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Highway 9 is set to be closed in both directions for a week as construction crews build a roundabout at the intersection with Vernon Road. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Weeklong closure coming to Highway 9 section in Lake Stevens

Travelers should expect delays or find another way from Friday to Thursday between Highway 204 and Lundeen Parkway.

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

The M/V Puyallup docks at the Edmonds waterfront on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 in Edmonds. The ferry along with the passenger loading walkway were struck by lightning last week. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Tune in for virtual meeting on Edmonds-Kingston ferry

The series of Washington State Ferries meetings are for updates and public comment. A recording is available online.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit: Defective inhaler led to death of Mountlake Terrace man

Pharmaceutical company Perrigo recalled inhalers in September 2020. Months earlier, Antonio Fritz Sr. picked one up at a pharmacy.

Most Read