It wasn't quite "snowmageddon," but the inches of fresh flakes that fell on the Tri-Cities on Wednesday had local agencies scrambling to respond to accidents, manage school and work schedules, and get streets plowed.
National Weather Service forecasters won't have an actual number until today, but they estimated the Tri-Cities probably saw about 2 to 4 inches by 6 p.m. Wednesday, depending on the location and elevation.
More snow is expected today in the Tri-Cities, but only 1 to 2 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
The winter storm warning the weather service issued has been reduced to a winter storm watch through tonight.
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The morning may start with snow, rain or freezing rain before 10 a.m., then turn to snow later in the day. The chance of precipitation is forecast at 100 percent.
Tonight, there is a 50 percent chance of snow by 4 a.m., then a slight chance of rain and snow showers. Nighttime snow accumulation should be less than an inch.
Wednesday's snow resulted in numerous reports of collisions on the region's streets and highways, but only minor injuries were reported.
A dispatcher for the Washington State Patrol reported that officers were slammed with calls about collisions all day.
Almost all of the reports involved vehicles, including some school buses, which slid in intersections and ended up in the median, in the ditch or hitting a guardrail.
Franklin County Sheriff's deputies responded to multiple accidents caused by the ice and snow.
"It's been busy, just one crash after another," Sgt. Jim Dickenson said. "I can't count the number of cars and rollovers we've had, but so far no injuries. One Pasco School bus slid at Road 60 and Court Street, but no one was hurt. We're just going from crash to crash, and I know the state patrol is backed up, too."
His advice to drivers is "to slow down, for crying out loud. Be patient and keep a greater distance between your car and the one in front of you."
If you do go into a slide, ease up on the brakes. Often, the car will steer out of it.
"If you hold your foot down on the brake pedal, the wheels will stop turning and the car will just keep on sliding, just like a sled," Dickenson said.
Kennewick Police responded to 30 crashes with no injuries, Sgt. Ken Lattin said.
The weather prompted many local school districts to delay opening Wednesday and then send students home early.
With snow on the ground and freezing rain in the forecast for today, the Kennewick, Pasco and Richland school districts have decided to cancel classes, sporting events and activities.
"We'll have to regroup on Friday," said Lorraine Cooper, Kennewick School District spokeswoman.
Columbia Basin College in Pasco also closed early Wednesday, but Washington State University Tri-Cities stayed open and on-schedule, although some individual professors canceled classes.
"WSU Tri-Cities rarely closes for inclement weather or winter conditions. Campus operations almost always remain on schedule," a campus news release said.
University spokeswoman Melissa O'Neil Perdue said campus officials will make a decision by 6 a.m. today about whether the weather merits canceling classes.
CBC spokesman Frank Murray said the community college also will make its decision about today's classes early this morning.
The Mid-Columbia and Richland libraries also closed early Wednesday because of the weather.
Workers at Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Energy Northwest were sent home about mid-day.
Meanwhile, local governments focused on getting streets plowed to give drivers safer conditions during the storm.
Martin Nelson, Kennewick's streets and storms supervisor, said a mix of salt and magnesium chloride was sprinkled on the city arterials, at intersections, hillside streets and known troublesome spots before the weekend.
"We were watching (the forecasts) as it came in," Nelson said. "Fortunately, a chunk of the storm went south of us."
The advance salting kept the freezing weather from bonding to the streets, he said.
"The snow landed on the salt, and then we sent trucks out to blade it, followed by more salt as needed," Nelson said.
The new salt strategy, instituted this year, seems to be effective, Nelson noted.
"Our streets should be set for the icy conditions with freezing rain tonight," he told the Herald on Wednesday afternoon.
West Richland road crews hit the streets when the snow began falling at 2 a.m. Wednesday and remained out at 3:30 p.m., plowing the main arterials, said Roscoe C. Slade III, the city's public works director.
"At this point, the roads aren't too bad," he said. "They had already put down liquid de-icer before the snow started, which helped a lot."
The city's main focus Wednesday was the main arterials and steep, hilly streets such as Bombing Range Road, South 45th Avenue, Collins Road, Mazzard Avenue and Candy Mountain Avenue.
Slade said major intersections have been sanded, and the city's next focus will be the minor collector streets, then residential streets.
"They'll continue plowing and spreading sand at intersections and, if necessary, can reapply the liquid de-icer on top of any compacted snow. It helps break it up," Slade said.
Regional travelers also faced challenges. Interstate 90 was closed at Snoqualmie Pass because of avalanche danger, and Interstate 84 was closed westbound at Boardman because of multiple vehicles crashed and blocking both westbound lanes.
At the Tri-Cities Airport, some flights were canceled or diverted.
Alaska Airlines canceled the flights expected to arrive in Pasco at 2:33 p.m. and to depart for Seattle at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The times of some other flights to and from Seattle were changed, and two incoming flights were diverted Wednesday morning because of snow and ice on the runways.
Mid-morning, a United Airlines flight from San Francisco was diverted to Portland and an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle turned back, said airport director Ron Foraker.
The airport's maintenance crew of six started plowing runways, taxiways and apron, and sanding the pavement at 4 a.m., but it was a continuous job as snow continued to fall and be blown by the wind, he said.
The airport was back in business by early afternoon, with incoming flights from Salt Lake City and Denver able to land, he said.
"We are open," Foraker said. "It is just winter weather."
However, freezing rain could affect flights today, he said.
More information about closures/delays:
-- A complete list of school closures is on tricityherald.com.
-- If a closure becomes necessary at WSU Tri-Cities, an announcement will be posted to www.tricity.wsu.edu and sent via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and WSU Alerts.
-- Residents can check on flight status by going to www.portofpasco.org and clicking on "Flight Info" in the upper right corner.