UPDATE 6:45 a.m., 2/11/2019: The National Weather Service now is more confident that precipitation Monday and Monday night in Snohomish County and points north will be snow, likely 4 to 8 inches by Tuesday morning.
EVERETT — If this keeps up, whimsical memes like “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse” will need to be retired. This weather is starting to feel like a new normal.
Several million residents of the usually temperate lowlands of Western Washington on Sunday prepared for two more rounds of snow, starting with 1 to 4 inches by Monday morning. As many went to bed Sunday night, it was snowing like crazy just about everywhere around Puget Sound.
After a pause Monday morning, another significant storm, possibly of 5 to 8 inches, is expected to hit the region starting early afternoon and ending by Tuesday. In some areas, including Snohomish County, that additional snow could be 6 inches or more, perhaps as much as a foot, the National Weather Service said — although more than a day in advance, it was hard to say.
But it also could be simply freezing wet Monday night. The weather service called the Monday-Tuesday weather system “very complex for areas south of Everett” and difficult to predict, with temperature variations presenting a variety of possibilities ranging from rain, to snow, to everything in between. In the Everett area and to the north, snowfall seemed likely, but no one was taking that forecast to the casino.
Unlike Friday’s snowstorm, which worked its way south from the state’s northern counties, the precipitation Monday will begin south and move north beginning around late morning, the weather service said.
Forecasters were warning of a difficult commute Monday morning after the overnight snow and Monday afternoon as the new system moves through.
Snohomish County schools and colleges decided to close on Monday. In Olympia, state government planned to go into hibernation, with the Senate, House and governor canceling public events.
After the snow, or rain, or freezing rain settles on Tuesday, we will have had four major winter weather events in less than 10 days. It started a week ago Sunday and Monday, with fouled-up Monday and Tuesday commutes, and then a second major snowfall arrived Friday night.
A melt does not seem imminent, but it’s possible. Beyond Tuesday, occasional snow is expected through the rest of the week, with overnight lows at sea level around 30 and highs in the upper 30s.
The cause of this recent genuine winter weather is unusually persistent cold air that has gripped Western Washington this month. February is typically in the middle of the pack in terms of rainfall, but with temperatures persisting at or below the freezing mark, average precipitation has been converted into abnormal snow.
A rush for groceries
Experts in disaster preparedness have urged people to be ready in case they are unable to leave their homes safely or lose power. That means having plenty of food and water, knowing how to check in with utilities about outages and staying warm.
Residents seem to have the food part covered. Stores have been scrambling to keep up since Thursday, when shelves were cleared of perishables in anticipation of the Friday night snow.
On Sunday, grocery stores in the area were a mixed bag in terms of inventory. In Everett, stores only a couple of miles apart had disparate supplies, depending on the product.
The QFC on Broadway was well-stocked with most goods. It was a little light on some bread loaves, eggs and milk, but plenty of options remained. Instant log shelves were a bit sparse. There was plenty of bottled water. QFC and Fred Meyer stores in Western Washington closed Saturday and Sunday nights so employees could concentrate on restocking shelves.
At the Safeway on 41st Street, a lot of fresh, perishable produce was gone. Bananas, bell peppers, green zucchini, mushrooms and potatoes were sparse or gone. The regular milk shelves were empty, but some specialty non-dairy options remained. Some cases of eggs and picked through loaves of bread were still there Sunday morning.
An Albertsons Companies spokeswoman said many of the 19 Albertsons and Safeway locations in Snohomish County and across the Puget Sound area were in a similar situation but were due for deliveries Sunday.
“Stores are generally lean on perishable product, particularly produce, meat and dairy,” spokeswoman Sara Osborne said, “but we anticipate that most Western Washington stores will receive a perishable delivery today.”
The Grocery Outlet off Evergreen Way was a banana bastion, meanwhile. It also had plenty of eggs and milk.
Outdoor toys in short supply
Costco locations in Lynnwood and Smokey Point reported being well stocked with food. Outdoor toys, however, were in short supply.
“We are stocked with everything except for Duraflames, sleds and shovels,” said Shawn Bowman at the Lynnwood Costco. “If you’re looking for something to play in the snow, it’s not here.”
And road salt, the chemical that melts ice to clear driveways and walking paths, apparently is nowhere to be found. O’Reilly Auto Parts in Lake Stevens and Snohomish were all out.
“The road salt is sold out everywhere,” said Tyler Truax at the Lake Stevens location.
Tire chains were still available at those locations, but the tire size is an important variable and could affect availability. Antifreeze-coolant for radiators, aerosol de-icer, ice scrapers and washer fluid were in stock, as well.
The good news is that eventually the sun will return and the temperature will rise. When it does, Costco is ready.
The members-only shopping center starts selling seasonal items three months ahead. That means winter clothes have been replaced with bathing suits, swim shorts and tank tops. “We just got our swimsuits in December,” said Angie Downes, a sales auditor at the Marysville location.