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Snow impacts: Snoqualmie Pass reopens following hours-long closure

More snow has hit western Washington, meaning city crews have to turn their focus back on the main roads and away from side streets and neighborhoods.

EVERETT, Wash. — More snow arrived in western Washington Thursday morning, causing adverse travel conditions and complicating air travel even more.

Those who don't need to travel should consider staying home, as roads are slick and snow-covered.


Another round of snow hit the region Thursday morning, meaning plows won't get to side streets for a while longer.

Debbie Lefler has lived in her Everett neighborhood for 40 years.

"I think this is probably some of the worst weather we've had because we had the snow and then the freeze," she said. 

The snow is making for a 24-hour-a-day scramble at the Everett Public Works yard. Forty people have been working 12-hour shifts since the snow started Sunday, and they will continue until further notice.

"They're just continuing to plow all day long, all night long until this is over," Everett Public Works spokesperson Kathleen Baxter said.

RELATED: Will my street be plowed after lowland snow? Check these maps

Crews started spreading deicer two days before the snow hit, but high hills and shady lanes were no match for the frigid temperatures. Drivers have already plowed more than 1,200 miles of road each day since Sunday in the city of Everett alone. Those crews give clearing the main roads precedence over tackling the neighborhoods and side streets.

Kris Olsen with the Washington State Department of Transportation said the department is operating 100 plows on 12-hour shifts since last week when snow started coming down in the region.

"When the snow is falling you have to keep hitting every route over and over until the snow stops. Then you continue to hit it until you get it knocked down as far as you can," said Baxter.

Another round of snow on top of the already icy streets means it will take even longer for plows to get to side streets.

Olsen said Thursday morning, "Drivers need to be prepared for changing conditions. The main lines are looking really good for the most part. We're still working on getting those ramps and some of the HOV lanes, so that's where you're going to see much more of that compact snow and ice that's piled up and, of course, those secondary roads."

Kelly Snyder, executive director of Snohomish County Public Works, said that the county is back to focusing on its primary routes Thursday after overnight and morning snow. 

"Right now with all of the snow that we received overnight and continues on to today, we're going back to our primary routes and making sure that first responders can get off to the locations that they need to get to," she said.

Traffic and law enforcement officials encourage everyone who can stay home to avoid travel.

Check the traffic map.

Mountain passes

Anyone traveling over the Cascade passes should prepare for winter driving conditions.

Heavy snow forecasted in the mountains will lead to difficult travel conditions across the passes for those traveling along I-90, US 2 and US 12, according to WSDOT. 

Snoqualmie Pass closed in both directions about 3:30 p.m. Thursday due to a crash involving hazardous material. The pass reopened around 6:45 p.m. 

An SUV crashed into a tanker carrying sulfuric acid just west of Cle Elum, according to WSDOT. No injuries were reported, and no leaks were reported.

The pass had been open for just two hours after another closure Thursday morning that lasted eight hours. That closure was due to heavy snow and high winds.

For those traveling over Stevens Pass, chains are required on all vehicles except four-wheel drive, and oversized vehicles are prohibited in both directions. There is compact snow and ice on the roadway. 

Here's how you can check current conditions:

>> Click here for KING 5 PASS REPORTS

>> Download the free KING 5 app for pass reports on the go

>> Follow WSDOT for changing conditions and driving restrictions

Public transit

Some public transit agencies are operating on snow routes due to winter weather conditions. King County Metro announced it would remain on its snow routes through Tuesday.

Check for changes to your King County route here.

Check for changes to Pierce Transit here.

Check for changes to Sound Transit here.

Check for changes to Community Transit here.

Additionally, Pierce Transit is offering free rides to warming centers through at least Dec. 30.

Ferry service

Washington State Ferries suspended new vehicle reservations on Wednesday for the San Juan Island routes for Sunday, Jan. 2 due to inclement weather and crew shortages. 

Route-by-route schedule information can be found at the links below:

Click here to see all travel alerts from WSF.

Power outages

Power outages remain scattered throughout the region. 

Here's how to check for and report outages in your area: 

Puget Sound Energy outage map

Seattle City Light outage map

SnoCo PUD outage map

Tacoma Public Utilities outage map

Garbage pickup 

Garbage pickups were suspended for the fourth day in a row for many on Thursday due to unsafe road conditions. Some shouldn't expect their garbage to be collected until next week.

To see who shouldn't expect their trash to be picked up and what to do about it, click here


All Seattle Public Library (SPL) locations will be closed on Thursday due to inclement weather and staffing limitations. Staff will be monitoring the weather and road conditions Thursday evening and Friday morning.

The SPL said holds and due dates have been extended a week, and book drops will be open at the locations listed below:

  • Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave.
  • Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W.
  • Beacon Hill Branch, 2821 Beacon Ave. S.
  • Broadview Branch, 12755 Greenwood Ave. N.
  • Capitol Hill Branch, 425 Harvard Ave. E.
  • Columbia Branch, 4721 Rainier Ave. S.
  • Douglass-Truth Branch, 2300 E. Yesler Way
  • Greenwood Branch, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N.
  • High Point Branch, 3411 S.W. Raymond St.
  • Lake City Branch, 12501 28th Ave. N.E.
  • NewHolly Branch, 7058 32nd Ave. S.
  • Rainier Beach Branch, 9125 Rainier Ave. S.
  • Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave. S.W.
  • University Branch, 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E.

The Summit at Snoqualmie is also closed Thursday due to a power outage. The resort said the WSDOT closing I-90 Thursday morning due to winter weather caused “uncertainty of when reliable power will be restored to the area.”

The resort said all lift and tubing tickets, rentals and lessons for Thursday will be automatically refunded. 

Sea-Tac Airport

On Wednesday, Alaska Airlines announced it is proactively reducing the number of flights out of Sea-Tac over the next few days by about 20% to allow for additional time to deice aircraft. 

Alaska canceled 170 flights across its network Wednesday, with more cancellations and delays expected Thursday and through the week.

As of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, there were a total of 103 delays and 289 cancelations at Sea-Tac Airport, according to FlightAware.

Check the latest flight info here.

How to prepare for travel

If you need to drive, wear extra layers, have a full tank of gas and check your tires before driving. 

Bring water, a blanket and shovel in your car, in case you get stuck. 

Most importantly, slow down and give yourself more time to reach your destination.

RELATED: How to prepare your home, plan for travel ahead of snow and freezing temps

Not all highways are plowed right away. WSDOT has a priority plow map to focus on major highways first. Olsen said plows will focus on interstates first, like Interstate 5 and 405, before moving on to major highways like US 2. 

Fresh snow across the region Thursday means that many of the plows will need to return to the same areas to place more treatment to help melt the ice and remove the snow. 

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