SEATTLE – Western Washington's first significant snowfall of the season Monday made traffic a mess in the Puget Sound area, leading to at least one death and causing major delays for incoming flights at Sea-Tac Airport. Bus routes were cut down and Metro transit was threatening to cancel routes on Tuesday.
Interstate 5 from Tacoma to Everett turned into a parking lot for many drivers. Several drivers told KING 5 News they were stuck for hours in backups as crashes and ice-covered roads hampered their drive home.
The worst nightmare was southbound I-5 from Seattle down through the Duwamish Curve in Tukwila. As of 11 p.m. Monday, some people had been in a standstill for at least six hours because of two collisions. Jamie Holter with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation said two lanes were opening up at about 11 p.m.
One of the drivers stuck in that was a woman named Brandi, who is seven months pregnant. She said some people got out of their cars to stretch their legs. She said after five hours, she was still 23 miles to go to her home in Federal Way.
Metro Transit said if conditions got significantly worse Monday night, it may have to cancel entire bus routes Tuesday morning. If they do run, it will be on snow routes and riders should expect them to be crowded and significantly delayed. Bus riders should check www.kingcounty.gov/metro/snow for the most current status.
While the snow is showing signs of moving out, the bitter cold is sticking around at least for another day, made worse by the winds.
KING 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Renner says the skies will clear, sending overnight lows in the mid-teens to low 20s over Skagit and San Juan counties. Temperatures in Whatcom County could fall into the single digits. Wind chill could drop it to minus-10 degrees.Tuesday looks mostly clear and cold before the potential for morning snow awaits Wednesday.
"Expect northerly sustained winds of 20-35 mph with gusts exceeding 40 mph over the Sound, and 25 to 45 mph with gusts exceeding 50 mph over Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties," said Renner.
The combination of overnight lows in the low teens to low 20s and strong winds will likely result in frigid wind chills of single digits to well below zero.
High temperatures both today and Tuesday will be below freezing across most of Western Washington, a rare event for November.
At Sea-Tac there have only been 14 days in the history of the airport weather records - which go back to 1945 - where the high has been 32 degrees or less in November.