EVERETT — Beds at Snohomish County’s cold-weather shelters were filling up quickly this week as chilly temperatures and several inches of snow were expected to sweep across Puget Sound.
As of Thursday, the two main shelters in Everett — with 100 beds between them — were at full capacity. Shelter organizers were preparing to set up space in other locations. Of the 275 shelter beds in the entire county, 150 were already filled.
“This community needs to open up whatever can be opened up so that we don’t experience anybody dying on the street,” said Sylvia Anderson, CEO of the Everett Gospel Mission.
Snowfall is in the forecast through the weekend, with the bulk predicted to fall late Friday and Saturday. By the end of the weekend, the region could have 3 to 6 inches of snow, Seattle National Weather Service meteorologist Dustin Guy said Thursday evening. The estimated amount of snow in the forecast has fluctuated over the past few days.
Nightly lows are predicted to drop to the mid-20s this weekend.
The county has cold-weather shelters at four locations:
• The Carnegie Building, 3001 Oakes Ave. in Everett;
• The Everett Gospel Mission, 2624 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett;
• Maple Park Church, 17620 60th Ave. W in Lynnwood;
• Evergreen State Fairgrounds Park, 14405 179th Ave SE in Monroe.
Shelter information can be found on the county website at snohd.org/471/Cold-Weather-Shelters.
COVID-19 safety precautions have put a strain on shelters and left organizers scrambling to adapt. To ensure social distancing, fewer beds are available. Some shelters don’t have the resources to be open at all right now.
“Several of the shelters closed that operated last year. They found that they just could not operate with the new COVID requirements,” said Lisa Utter, board chair of the South Snohomish County Emergency Cold Weather Shelter.
In the past two years, three county residents believed to be homeless died of causes involving hypothermia, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Shelter bed spaces are available first-come, first-served. Anderson said people are encouraged to call shelters in advance to verify vacancy and reserve a spot.
Highway closure and safety information, including condition updates on Snoqualmie and Stevens passes, can be found at the Washington Department of Transportation website at wsdot.wa.gov.
Plows were preparing to clear county roads in case snow sticks, according to a tweet by Snohomish County officials. A map with road maintenance information can be found at goweb2.calamp.com/snohomishpublic/snowiceActivity.html.
Stores in Everett were preparing for the potential snowpocalypse Thursday, with plentiful stacks of sandbags and deicer.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District has several suggestions for coping with the cold:
• Never leave a garden hose attached to the faucet in freezing weather. Disconnect and drain hoses.
• Locate the main water shutoff valve to your home and make sure household members know how to turn off the water in case pipes burst.
• Open shades on south-facing windows during the day to use the natural warmth of the sun to warm rooms.
Ellen Dennis: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen.
This story has been modified to correct the last name of Everett Gospel Mission CEO Sylvia Anderson.