Icy conditions close schools, make roads treacherous

  • By Lukas Velush and Jackson Holtz / Herald writers
  • Monday, January 15, 2007 9:00pm
  • Local NewsLocal news

Patches of ice appear to be forming on many Snohomish County roads as the snow melts and then refreezes on frozen surfaces.

The state Department of Transportation and county and city public works crews have been spreading deicer and sand all morning. Thats still not preventing ice patches from forming, according to reports.

Weve got 31 sander-plow combos out on the road right now, said Steve Pratt, director of road maintenance for Snohomish County. Its really been crazy trying to stay caught up with it.

By 10:30, the temperature at Paine Field had climbed to 31 degrees — just below freezing, said Johnny Burg, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Temperatures are forecast to climb to 34 degrees today before dropping well below freezing overnight, he said.

As on the state highways, many drivers are slowing down and being careful in the rough conditions so there havent been many accidents on the county roads, Pratt said. Since the floods of November, straight through today we have only had one weekend where we havent had people working straight through. The point is its been one thing after another.

State officials said area roads were improving, with 13 trucks working to keep roads from icing up.

We have no reports of icy roads on I-5 in Snohomish County, said Lauren Chudecke, a spokeswoman for DOT. The ramps are bare and wet.

As snow mixes with freezing rain and rain, slick roads are causing drivers to spin out, said Trooper Kirk Rudeen, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

The change in weather conditions from snow to rain may cause extremely hazardous conditions later today, he said.

Theyre going to drive on water on snow and its going to make for really dangerous driving, he said.

The worse spots in the county Tuesday morning were from Marysville north to the Skagit County line, he said.

No serious accidents were reported, but several spinouts and fender benders were causing headaches on area roads.

Packed snow covered side roads and roads in eastern Snohomish County. As much as 3 inches of snow was on the roads in Marysville, he said.

Drivers should slow down and leave plenty of distance between vehicles, Rudeen said.

Just because a vehicle has four-wheel drive, he said, that doesnt mean the laws of physics still dont apply.

If you hit the ice and you start to lose it, youre going to lose it, he said.

The evening commute will be influenced by when the rain starts to fall and how much snow is melted away before temperatures drop below freezing again.

It all depends on how warm it gets today and when it cools down and freezes, Rudeen said.

Slick roads and snow closed many area schools this morning.

The decision to cancel school was particularly difficult in the Arlington and Marysville school districts this morning.

In Marysville, for instance, district leaders at 4:50 a.m. surveyed the roads and planned to start school on time. Twenty minutes later, snow began falling harder and seemed slicker than the past and the decision was made to delay school two hours.

By 8:20 a.m., there were reports of cars sliding up and down State Avenue in Marysville and the decision was made to cancel school even though some students were already on school buses and arriving at the high school.

Marysville Superintendent Larry Nyland said its always hard making the decision when the snow comes late. There are safety concerns of getting kids to school and safety concerns when parents have left for work with a child at home assuming school will be in session.

Its a tough call, Nyland said. Either way we would probably get calls.

Anybody looking for sunshine and balmy weather might want to think about buying a plane ticket.

Temperatures are forecast to climb into the mid-30s Wednesday, but they likely will fall below freezing again Wednesday night, Burg said.

Thursday and Fridays forecast is for slightly warmer temperatures, but still hovering near freezing.

Herald writer Eric Stevick contributed to this report.

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