Snow Day Encore! District explains decision to close schools February 7th

UPDATE |  February 7th, 5:40PM

Many people were asking what drove the seemingly last minute change regarding the status of SVSD schools on Tuesday, February 7th – from a two-hour delay to a full closure shortly before buses were ready to head out.

This afternoon the district released a letter to parents explaining that change, as well as their policy for future weather-relate school delays/closures.

Here is that letter:

Parents and Staff,
Weather during the winter months can sometimes force a change in the school routine and schedule. Today was one of those days. For a summary of how school schedule changes are made, please refer to the District website under: Be Prepared for School Schedule Changes.
As stated on the website, every effort is made to finalize this decision no later than 5:00 a.m. in order for staff to mobilize and parents to plan. In nearly all cases where a decision is being contemplated for school delay/closure, District staff take as much time as is available to make a final decision. The more time staff take to gather information, assess the most current conditions, evaluate, and make the decision, the better the chances of making the correct decision. Time allows staff to react to unanticipated changes in weather patterns, carefully evaluate current road conditions, forecast road conditions for later in the day, and account for late updates or changes in the weather forecast.
Today, the decision to delay the start of school was made at 4:30 a.m. The decision to change the status to cancellation was made at about 7:35 a.m. and communicated by 7:50 a.m. The District acknowledges this change in plans caused confusion and/or inconvenience for some parents, students, and staff. And for that, we apologize.
This morning, the roads and streets upon which school buses travel were in great shape, and the transport of students was deemed to be safe. The two-hour delay was to have provided some extra time for staff to fully mobilize, and for additional time for the City and County to further address road conditions. The two-hour delay would have allowed more time for SVSD staff commuting from other communities to get here safely as well. So why the change from delay to cancellation?
A handful of issues emerged at around 7:00 a.m. today, which warranted revisiting the original decision. While main roads and streets were in good condition for the school buses to run on limited transportation routes—-school parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks were still questionable. Although our maintenance staff had been working to clear and treat these areas since yesterday afternoon, there was not enough progress made to ensure the safety of staff and students upon their arrival at school.
In addition, there were a number of staff who were having major difficulties getting to school (primarily teachers who live outside the District and commute to work each day). There were a number of substitute staff indicating they would not be able to get to school as well. Consequently, available staffing would have been a challenge today.
While preserving the safety of the students is clearly our highest priority, the District also endeavors to adhere to the established school schedule when possible. We realize that canceling or delaying school because of adverse weather conditions causes a good deal of inconvenience for parents, and in many cases students are left at home alone throughout the entire day. These decisions are definitely a balancing act.
Again, we apologize for this morning’s “change in plans” if it caused inconvenience for your family. While making such a change was problematic for some, the decision was made with the safety of students and staff in mind.
Thank you for your support and understanding as these difficult decisions are made.

UPDATE | February 7th, 8AM

Well, after announcing a two-hour late start at 4:20AM, the SVSD administration altered course and opted for a full closure around 7:40AM.

Temperatures around the Valley are generally in the upper 20’s to low 30’s. Some areas got a light dusting of snow overnight. Many residents have reported icy (and snowy)  side streets, but mostly clear mainline roads. Temperatures are expected to climb to around 40 today.

According to the PSE outage map, there are still some pockets of Fall City/Preston and Snoqualmie without power. About 150 homes remain affected.

 


UPDATE | February 6th, 6PM

It was a fun snow day for many Snoqualmie Valley kids (and parents). Families packed ‘kite hill’ at Snoqualmie Community Park – making the traditional trek down the famed sledding hill.

For those wondering about school tomorrow, SVSD doesn’t typically announce school delays or closures until approximately 5AM that day.

Temperatures tonight are expected to be in the upper 20’s to low 30’s – meaning there could be some icy roads in the morning, but weather forecasters aren’t predicting a ‘hard freeze.’ Scattered snow showers (not big accumulating) are also a possibility overnight.

Sledders at the top of ‘kite hill’ at Snoqualmie Community Park, 2/6/17. Photo: SnoRidge Weather Twitter

 

Snoqualmie Community Park filled with sledders, 2/6/17.


UPDATE | February 6, 2017, 1:40PM

I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass – between North Bend and Ellensburg – is scheduled to reopen around 2PM.


UPDATE | February 6, 2017, 10:30AM

PSE said power outages around the area have been caused by heavy wet snow sending tree limbs into power lines. There are still multiple outages in Fall City and Snoqualmie.

From PSE:

“The damage is primarily to distribution lines. This means that smaller numbers of customers are impacted by each outage and it will slow restoration efforts as crews need to go from each job, assess the damage and make repairs. To aid in restoration, we’ll be supplementing our crews with additional crews from outside the areas. However, crews will need to have safe access before they can assess damage and make repairs.”

Below is some aerial footage of the snow that fell in Snoqualmie overnight.  The first video is over Snoqualmie Ridge and the second is over historic Snoqualmie near Mount Si High School. Thanks to Sean Sundwall for capturing the footage with his drone.


UPDATE | February 6, 2017, 7:30AM

WSDOT said SR 18 has reopened between I-90 and Issaquah Hobart Road, but traction tires are required. Drivers are advised to use caution and take it slow.

One Valley resident made the drive from Snoqualmie to Issaquah and reported I-90 has compact snow and ice, with some cars in ditches. She advised others to go slow (most cars going around 30mph on the freeway) and use vehicles with 4-wheel drive. She said Issaquah has almost as much snow as Snoqualmie Ridge.

I-90 between North Bend and Ellensburg remains closed due to high avalanche danger.


UPDATE | February 6, 2017, 5:45AM

The City of Snoqualmie said crews are still out plowing, working on arterial and collector roads. They will plow side streets when possible. There is NO garbage pickup today (Snoqualmie) and all collection is pushed out one-day – so Monday collection is on Tuesday, Tuesday is on Wednesday, etc.

North Bend residents reported county plows were also working in the Wilderness Rim area.

King County Metro route 208 info can be found HERE. Residents reported plows were also working in the Wilderness Rim area.

WSDOT has closed I-90 between North Bend (exit 34) and Ellensburg (exit 106) due to heavy snow and high avalanche danger.  There is no ETA yet for reopening.

There are also power outages reported in the Fall City/Preston area affecting about 850 customers, as well as an outages in the Tokul area of Snoqualmie affecting about 70 customers.  The outages are even more widespread in Carnation and Duvall according to the PSE outage map.  PSE said heavy wet snow is weighing down tree limbs and power lines.


UPDATE | February 6, 2017, 4:40AM

Snoqualmie Valley Schools are closed, along with most other districts in Western Washington. SR 18 between Issaquah Hobart Road and I-90 is closed in both directions. WSDOT said there is no ETA for reopening.

Steady snow is expected to continue early Monday morning and then taper to showers as the day progresses. There appears to be about 10 inches at our location on Snoqualmie Ridge.  The National Weather Service said the Winter Storm Warning runs until 4PM, with another 1-3 inches of snow possible on Monday, with the higher accumulations in areas with more elevation. Snoqualmie Valley temperatures are expected to stay just above freezing all day.

Note: Snow plow routes for different areas of the Snoqualmie Valley are posted below in last night’s update.

Snow on Snoqualmie Ridge early Monday, 2/6/17


UPDATE |  FEBRUARY 5, 2017, 3:30PM

The National Weather Service said the forecast snow is moving in faster than anticipated, so the Winter Storm Warning (below) went into effect at 3PM. It expires Monday at 4PM.

The City of Snoqualmie has four snow plows. Public Information Officer Joan Pliego said the snow plows (and sanders) will head out as needed any time of night. Information about the city’s ice removal plan and snow routes can be found HERE.

The City of North Bend has two large plows and one smaller plow. Info about North Bend’s snow plow routes can be found HERE.

Areas of unincorporated King County can find snow plow maps/routes HERE.


ORIGINAL STORY

With the Portland area grabbing all the snow so far this winter, it finally looks like the Seattle area could be getting in on the winter weather action starting later tonight.

On Sunday morning, February 5, 2017 the National Weather Service said a low pressure system moving across the area over the next day will bring the possibility of ‘significant snow’ to much of the Puget Sound region Sunday night and into Monday, February 6th.

According to NWS, the latest weather model runs and ensembles have trended toward more snow, “with the highest amounts over the Puget Sound region and especially over the east Puget Sound lowlands.”  They said 3-6 inches could fall over the area, but that the East Puget Sound region could see slightly higher accumulations.

KOMO Weather Producer Scott Sistek said 5-10″ of snow is possible in the Snoqualmie Valley. By Sunday morning, though, the Wilderness Rim area of North Bend already had two inches of the white stuff.

The Snoqualmie Valley (higher elevations) could continue to see snow or snow/rain mix Sunday afternoon, but UW Atmospheric Science Professor Cliff Mass stated “the real action” would start Sunday evening and extend into Monday. Some weather model maps Mass shared on his weather blog predict over a foot of snow in the Valley by Tuesday.

NWS issued a Winter Weather Advisory early Sunday morning, but upgraded it to a Winter Storm Warning by late morning – saying up to eight inches of snow was possible near the Cascades.

High temperatures for the Snoqualmie Valley region from Sunday – Tuesday are expected to be in the mid to upper 30’s and lows right around freezing.  The Cascades Mountains are expected to measure snow by the feet during that time period.

Remember, as with all weather forecasts, it’s not a slam dunk. Most weather forecasters do say that there is a high probability for snow – just how much remains to be seen.

Wilderness Rim area already had snow on Sunday morning, 2/5/17. Photo: Kathy Hyland

 

48 hour (Sun – Tues) snowfall weather model predictor. Photo: Cliff Mass weather blog

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