More snow than expected hit Skagit County late Tuesday and early Wednesday as Mount Vernon received about eight inches and Anacortes about 12.
The snowfall was about twice what was forecast.
The National Weather Service reported in its Wednesday morning briefing that the higher totals were due to southerly winds in central Puget Sound warming temperatures above freezing and pushing the precipitation farther north.
Skagit County Public Works Director Dan Berentson said his department was prepared for the increased snowfall that covered the 800 miles of roads for which his department is responsible.
“Last year we had a lot of snow,” he said. “We are always prepared for snow with stockpiles of sand and salt. We have 400 tons of salt. Last year, we used about 300 tons. So we will be keeping an eye on it in case there is another snow event.
“We have a lot of experienced people and those crews were ready to go. It went pretty smoothly.”
Berentson said Public Works employees shoveled snow Wednesday off the deck of the Guemes Island Ferry, and for the third consecutive day plowed school bus routes.
“There was a lot of snow out in Anacortes,” he said. “So the ferry deck had to be shoveled. We also cleared the loading area as well.
“School bus routes get priority. It was tough this morning. But all in all, our transportation strategy during snow events went well.”
It has been a tough couple of days on Interstate 5 as well.
Trooper Heather Axtman of the State Patrol said troopers have responded to 53 vehicle collisions in Skagit County since Sunday. Of those, 41 occurred in a 24-hour span from Tuesday into Wednesday.
“We can call shifts in early for events such as this, but we don’t call in extra troopers (for full shifts),” Axtman said. “With weather, it’s just too unsure and we don’t want to waste time and money.”
The State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies work closely during extreme weather.
“We may wear different uniforms, but we are all one big team,” Axtman said.
In the 24-hour period from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Wednesday, 48 of 223 calls to Skagit County law enforcement were regarding vehicle collisions.
Wednesday also brought about school closures for the Anacortes, Burlington-Edison, Concrete, Conway, La Conner, Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Christian and Sedro-Woolley school districts, and for the all of the Skagit Valley College campuses.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Burlington-Edison district had called off school for Thursday and the Anacortes, Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon districts had announced they would be operating on two-hour delays.
Though another storm was expected in the area Wednesday into Thursday, the forecast from the National Weather Service called for less snow but more wind.
“We’re prepared,” said Skagit County spokesperson Andy Arnes. “Of course, snow removal is an extremely high priority.”
A map from the National Weather Service shows that with warming temperatures, less than an inch of snow was expected in west Skagit County from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, and one to two inches was expected in east Skagit County.
The National Weather Service expected precipitation from the storm to fall as a rain-snow mix during the day Wednesday, then turn to rain at night.
The seven-day forecast for Skagit County shows snow or rain-snow mixes possible through Saturday, then rain on Saturday night and Sunday.
The snow and wind in areas of the county late Tuesday and early Wednesday were responsible for power outages throughout the area.
The largest were between Concrete and Rockport where 89 Puget Sound Energy customers were without power and in Bow where an outage was affecting 108 customers, according to PSE’s outage map.
Both of the outages came about midnight and as of 4 p.m. Wednesday only six of those customers had power restored.