All the footprints on the frost-coated sidewalk of a W. Mukilteo Boulevard bridge over Merrill and Ring Creek on Monday morning appear to be from people heading south. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

All the footprints on the frost-coated sidewalk of a W. Mukilteo Boulevard bridge over Merrill and Ring Creek on Monday morning appear to be from people heading south. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Shelters open, and frosty temps are expected until Thursday

Cold-weather services for the homeless are available many nights every winter.

EVERETT — Winter isn’t officially here yet. However, temperatures are beginning to drop and cold weather shelters are opening their doors.

Communities across Snohomish County are forecast to dip into the low 30s Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. Volunteers at emergency shelters are letting people know they’ll have a warm place to sleep if temperatures drop below freezing.

Early-morning commuters likely will need to scrape ice off of their cars and might run into freezing fog.

The cold snap isn’t expected to last long. Thursday is forecast to bring rain. The drizzle might linger through the weekend.

The cold weather is caused by an inversion, which often results in clear, cold and starry nights.

“It’s definitely cold, but it’s not an arctic outbreak,” meteorologist Johnny Burg said.

He warned commuters of slick roads and heavy fog that could reduce visibility to a quarter-mile or less. People who are out walking might want to wear reflective gear, he said.

The Weather Service also issued an air stagnation advisory Monday. The current weather conditions make car exhaust and chimney smoke more likely to hang around. People with respiratory illnesses are most likely to be affected.

The advisory is set to expire Thursday afternoon, as the rain rolls in. Temperatures should rise into the 40s.

“Right now, I think it’s going to be your typical winter rainy day,” Burg said.

Those temperatures can still be dangerous for people who are out in the cold overnight.

Mark Waldin said police officers and firefighters often give people rides to the Edmonds Senior Center. Most cold nights, the center is converted into a shelter.

Waldin is the program director of the South Snohomish County Emergency Shelter Network, which serves Lynnwood and Edmonds. Last year, the shelter was open 36 nights. That was a particularly cold winter.

A shuttle service transports people from Lynnwood City Hall and the Trader Joe’s near Highway 99 and 196th Street SW to the center. Volunteers from churches around south county cook guests a hot meal for dinner and breakfast. They also pack a sack lunch for each person to take in the morning.

Waldin suggested that people use the shuttle, as there are times when the location of the shelter changes. In the event that the senior center is rented out for an event, a local church hosts the shelter.

Waldin and his wife took over the program when they became members at Trinity Lutheran Church nine years ago. They were looking for a way to become involved. The pastor asked the couple whether they’d like to run the cold weather shelter.

“I sort of fell into it,” Waldin said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Hands Together in Arlington also provides similar services. Last year, it was open 50 nights. They are able to provide bedding, dinner and breakfast for up to 24 people. The shelter relocated between different churches. For more information, call Arlington United Methodist Church at 360-435-3259.

For details about the South Snohomish County Shelter Network and its shuttle services, go to www.weallbelong.org.

For additional shelters located throughout Snohomish County, go to sno-isle.org/cold.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins @heraldnet.com.

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