Stay home. Go slow. Be patient.
Ask anyone in the Tri-Cities how to deal with the snow, sleet and freezing rain and that's the advice they give.
Drivers continued to struggle Thursday with the slushy, slick roads, but there didn't appear to be as many people out and about with schools closed and many businesses or offices shutting down early.
"It is incredibly treacherous driving conditions because of the freezing rain," said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb. "I can't think of a more deadly mix than four to five inches of snow and freezing rain on top of it. Patience is going to be your best friend."
Carmen Garcia, who had to make the round-trip commute from her Pasco home to her job at Payless Shoes in Kennewick, said she hates the snow and driving in it because of other drivers.
"Some are cautious, but some aren't ... I don't care what you drive, I'm not going to speed up," Garcia said as she scraped ice off her car and prepared to head home Thursday. "Go slow. That's all I do."
Once she made it home, Garcia planned to stay put.
"If I'm going somewhere, I'm walking," she said. "If I need groceries, I'm just going to make what's in the freezer. It's not worth it to go out. There's just too many accidents."
Remarkably, there have been no reports of serious injuries.
Richland police responded to 48 reported crashes from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 2 p.m. Thursday. Kennewick police said they had responded to 69 crashes since the storm began.
Washington State Patrol troopers stayed busy dealing with spin-offs and rollovers, prompting the closure of Interstate 82 between Kennewick and Oregon for most of the day because of several crashes.
State officials said the extremely icy conditions made clearing a crashed semi-truck in the eastbound lanes particularly difficult, and state Department of Transportation workers had to repeatedly apply de-icer to the road until the wrecked truck could be hauled away.
Highway 14 to Plymouth also was closed.
A winter storm warning remained in effect through 4 a.m. today with National Weather Service forecasters in Pendleton predicting accumulations of up two inches of snow and sleet.
They warned that "accumulations of freezing rain, snow and sleet will create hazardous, if not impossible, driving conditions."
Rob Brooks, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pendleton, said Tri-Citians can expect more of the same weather today with slightly warmer temperatures.
"It's just going to be a wintry mix and ugly looking all the way until Saturday," he said, noting that temperatures Saturday are expected to get to a high of 48. "Then it's back to snow and rain likely by Sunday."
Schools that already had decided to close today are: Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Kiona-Benton City, Finley, Dayton and Columbia school districts, Kingspoints Christian School, Liberty Christian School and Kahlotus.
As of 7 p.m. Thursday, Prescott, Prosser, Walla Walla and College Place were planning to start two hours late today. For updates, check online at tricityherald.com.
YMCA School-Age Child Care will be open today, but child care sites will be consolidated to Canyon View Elementary and Vista Elementary.
Students who go to Amistad, Cascade, Lincoln, Southgate or Washington will be at Canyon View Elementary, and those who go to Cottonwood, Edison, Hawthorn, Ridgeview or Sunset View will be at Vista.
Columbia Basin College will be closed, but Washington State University Tri-Cities officials said they expect their campus to be open today after closing Thursday.
The Franklin County Courthouse and other county facilities shut down early Thursday and also are closed today.
In Benton County, commissioners declared a state of emergency because of the severe weather and gave department heads the authority to close early Thursday and stay closed today. It wasn't clear which offices will be open today, if any, but the Justice Center did shut down early Thursday. Superior Court, which includes juvenile court, District Court and the clerk's office have announced they are closed.
West Richland city hall and its related facilities will be closed as well.
The freezing rain and sleet didn't affect the majority of air traffic out of the Tri-Cities on Thursday, but it kept airport maintenance crews busy all day long.
"They've just been repetitively working all day to keep them clear. They no sooner finish than they have to start all over again," said Ron Foraker, director of the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco. "I have one maintenance man out on the walkways and public streets keeping them safe for passengers and another out on the apron. The rest, four of them, are out on the taxiways and runways."
Alaska/Horizon flights were interrupted Thursday because of the closure of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
"We haven't seen any Alaska/Horizon flights inbound from Seattle all day," Foraker said. "But we've seen United, Delta and Allegiant planes all day despite our rather marginal weather conditions.
"We've had freezing rain all day but fortunately have been able to maintain enough friction on the runways so the planes can come and go," Foraker added.
The lone Alaska flight that landed in Pasco on Wednesday night was scheduled to leave at 6 a.m. Thursday. However, it wasn't able to take off because Sea-Tac was closed. It departed for Seattle later Thursday after one runway was cleared at the Seattle airport.