ARLINGTON – Arlington, if you liked Snowmaggedon with its action-packed wintery snow day fun and gripping road conditions, get ready for the sequel.
Thawmaggedon, coming to a street near you.
The snow has begun to melt as the region warms up, leaving behind a slushy mess, mounds of dirty snow and prompting flood warnings.
Rain is in the weekend forecast, with highs in the low 40s dropping to 30 degrees during overnight hours, which could generate trace amounts of snow or a snow-rain mix, according to the National Weather Service.
Arlington City Administrator Paul Ellis said road crews worked 24/7 on 12-hour rotations over the 10-day snow event to keep roads plowed and sanded.
“It’s been a long event for everybody,” Ellis said. He lauded the patience shown by residents and businesses to give crews space to get the job done, adding, “We’re glad they took the warning and stayed home.”
The city also requested salt supplies through Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management to restock dwindling supplies and had more sand delivered.
“We’ve been able to keep up pretty well with the snow,” Ellis said. As crews continued to make rounds late into the week clearing snow on neighborhood roads and school parking lots, recovery efforts transitioned to clearing sidewalks and storm drains to deter potential flooding.
Ellis compared this snow and ice event to December 2008 when more than 14 inches of snow in back-to-back storms pummeled the Arlington area, followed by rain and slush that plugged storm drains. In those storms, warming temperatures brought wet snow and rain that caused roofs to collapse in Arlington, Marysville and other places around Puget Sound.
Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for Washington Feb. 8 due to the winter storm, and Mayor Barb Tolbert signed a declaration of emergency over the weekend. City officials are still compiling materials used, hours worked and other expenditures that must be documented for reimbursement if it comes.
Public Works Director Jim Kelly said Arlington is in much better shape to tackle snowmelt stormwater runoff now, since several undersized culverts have been replaced. The city manages 3,500 storm drains and catch basins and 48 miles of storm drain.
City spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said flooding isn’t as bad so far as officials have seen in the past, noting that residents have done their part to clear off storm grates as temperatures warmed. However, challenging spots remain such as ditches and swales in the Smokey Point area, and First Street near Haller Middle School that will get looked at later this year for possible solutions.
Department of Corrections crews have been assembling more sandbags at the Maintenance and Operations yard, just in case, Banfield said. “It helps our staff so they can focus more on primary work like cleaning out storm drains and getting neighborhood roads cleared.”
Banfield said the city responded to 25 collisions – about two a day – that happened between Feb. 3-13. That’s normal for the rest of the year.
“Residents did a good job of heeding the warning to make an effort to stay off roads if you didn’t need to be out,” Banfield said.
Schools were closed Monday through Wednesday in Arlington, Lakewood and Marysville, along with Everett Community College. Food banks announced they will be closed when schools are.
Sunday, many churches reduced services, delayed them or even canceled them due to inclement weather.
Community Transit buses were delayed up to 60 minutes part of the week.
Arlington residents were asked to pull their garbage carts from the road and were being told on their next regular collection day they could set out triple the amount at no charge.
Last weekend, three trees fell down on the hill on South Olympic Avenue, downing a light pole as well.
There have been other reports of plows in ditches, and a State Patrol trooper making snow angels with kids. Even Arlington Municipal Cemetery did not have any burial services this week due to the weather.
Passing the time
What to do? That’s been on the minds of many people as kids have been off from schools, resulting in many parents taking time off work. Playing video games and watching TV are favorite indoor pastimes, but others have been reading, playing board games or doing projects.
Outdoor play also has been popular, with sledding at places like Jennings Park among the favorite activities. Having snowball fights, building snowmen and making snow angels were other favorites.
Since it was looking like Alaska around here, others took to building igloos. Bobby and Daniele Marsten and kids Levi, Payten and Carson made one on 3rd Street in Marysville. They used a plastic container as the mold for their snow bricks. “I graded them on their block-building skills,” the dad said Tuesday night. “Their speed, the quality … that motivated them.”
He said they must have spent six hours or so building it. “It’s amazing how much snow we still have” in the yard, he added.
Meanwhile, Isabella Smith, 7, of Marysville came up with a poster on “Stuff to do when we’re bored.”
It included ideas such as puzzles, coloring, playing outside, watching a show, going on a walk and playing with cars.
Countywide, the Department of Emergency Management activated its Emergency Coordination Center.
Numerous spinouts and fender benders were reported. Law enforcement reported that some of those crashes ended with the drivers exchanging blows instead of insurance information. “Drivers are encouraged to stay off the roads, but if they have no choice, it helps to extend others some space and kindness,” DEM director Jason Biermann said.
The sheriff’s office prioritized calls based on the seriousness of each incident (injuries, immediate threat to life or public safety). “If you are involved in a non-injury collision, please do not call 9-1-1,” sheriff spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. “Please exchange information at the scene, call a tow truck and file a collision report online.”
County crews were running between 30-40 plows. They worked primary routes first, moving onto secondary and local access routes as they made progress. The county asked motorists to give snowplows and de-icers room to work, allowing for at least 200 feet following distance. Crews work 12-hour shifts around the clock. The county executive declared an emergency, which allowed quicker access to resources such as sand and salt.
Meanwhile, Arlington will continue to offer a cold-weather to the homeless from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through March 31 when temperatures drop to 32 degrees or below for three or more hours.
A light supper and breakfast are usually served. Call 360-403-4674 to see if a shelter is open. To volunteer, call 360-435-3259.
•Sundays, Mondays: Immaculate Conception Church, 1200 E. 5th St. 360-435-8565.
•Tuesdays: Jake’s House, 18824 Smokey Point Blvd., Suite 105, 360-659-8900.
•Wednesdays: Arlington United Church, 338 N. MacLeod Ave., 360-435-3259.
•Thursdays: Smokey Point Community Church, 17721 Smokey Point Blvd., 360-659-2844.
•Fridays, Saturdays: Arlington United Church.
–Managing Editor Steve Powell contributed to this report.