Tri-Cities snowpocalypse may become slushpocalypse

Snow day equals work or play

A snow day for many Tri-Citians became time spent clearing it or playing outdoors in the snow deposited by recent winter storms.
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A snow day for many Tri-Citians became time spent clearing it or playing outdoors in the snow deposited by recent winter storms.

The Tri-Cities may have weathered the worst of its February 2019 snowpocalypse.

Warming temperatures could have the next storm systems forecast for the Tri-Cities dropping some snow, but also rain and freezing rain.

But mess on the ground is treacherous enough that Tri-City schools and other events were canceled for Tuesday. Hanford announced a late start and only essential workers are reporting to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

It’s a turnaround from forecasts Monday morning that warned the Tri-Cities could get as much as six more inches of snow from Monday through Wednesday. That appeared unlikely by Monday evening.

A new round of snow started falling in the Tri-Cities on Monday morning.

Between 4 p.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday when a winter weather advisory expires, the National Weather Service was predicting an inch or two of new snow.

Kennewick officer offers some helpful tip for driving on the icy, snow compacted roads.

But the early morning snow could also be mixed with freezing rain, the weather service said. Tuesday there is only a slight chance of precipitation but it could fall as rain.

Early Wednesday morning a mix of rain, snow and freezing rain is likely.

Any snow accumulation Wednesday should be less than an inch, although there is a 30 percent chance that more snow could fall overnight, according to the weather service.

Joel Micka, owner of Storage Systems Northwest, powers a track-driven side-by-side UTV outfitted with a snow plow across the parking lot Monday of the business at 900 E. Chemical Dr. in Kennewick. Micka and several of his employees were busy clearing the lot of snowfall from the weekend’s winter storm. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Only a slight chance of snow, possibly mixed with rain, is forecast for the rest of the week, and then the sun may come out on Sunday.

No school

Several Mid-Columbia schools will be closed for another day Tuesday, including Kennewick, Pasco and Richland districts, as officials are wary of potentially slick roads and sidewalks piled high with snow.

Students can check for school closures and delays at bit.ly/snowdelays.

Most Mid-Columbia schools and libraries were closed on Monday, along with many businesses, as Tri-City residents continued to dig out from the weekend snowfall.

AccuWeather put the snowfall through the weekend at 6.1 inches, but drifts were much deeper. There also was more snowfall to the west of the Tri-Cities.

A group of Good Samaritans help free a motorist in a low-slung Honda sedan that became high-centered on deep ruts of snow Monday on West Seventh Avenue in Kennewick. After a clearing away some snow they were able to attach a tow strap and free the car from the intersection. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Neighbors were helping each other shovel snow as many had the day off from school and work after Sunday’s snowfall.

Entrepreneurial kids were making some spending money, and some adults were offering to shovel in exchange for contributions to local charities.

Neighbors helping neighbors

Richland emergency workers used a borrowed snowmobile Sunday to transport a patient on unplowed roads to a waiting ambulance. Courtesy Richland Fire and Emergency Services

A good Samaritan helped out Richland Fire and Emergency on Sunday when a crew responded to a medical emergency in the Badger South development.

Streets there were too snowy for an ambulance, requiring a wait for a snowplow to arrive.

That’s when a neighbor offered up his snowmobile, allowing a firefighter to get the patient to a waiting ambulance.

“We have seen so many people helping complete strangers over the past couple of days,” the Richland agency posted on social media.

Sister and brother Rogue and Zeus, Great Danes located in Boise, Idaho, played outside Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9-10.

The Rattlesnake 4x4 Club made sure that health care workers could get to the two Trios hospitals in Kennewick and Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Four drivers traveled about 300 miles each day from Saturday through Monday, making sure medical professionals could get to work and home again.

Some rides were needed in the middle of the night.

The club also helped out getting staff to and from Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Jean Campbell of McDonald Drive in Pasco praised the snowplow drivers who came by her neighborhood on Sunday for their thoughtfulness.

She waved and mouthed “thank you” as they came by her house.

The driver of the third plow, the one with the largest blade, responded by carefully depositing the snow berm in her yard and not in her driveway, she said.

Travel, trash and more

The Tri-Cities Airport was open Monday, but some flights to and from Seattle were canceled.

Highway 225 remained closed from Benton City to SR 240 on Monday because blowing and drifting snow is making it impassible in many spots, said the state Department of Transportation.

Law enforcement was kept busy responding to crashes on icy roads. The Washington State patrol reported 136 crashes in the Tri-Cities area and 80 in the Yakima area over the weekend.

In the Tri-Cities, Dial-A-Ride was not operating Monday and will not resume service on Tuesday because many residential streets have yet to be plowed.

Ben Franklin Transit routes were running, although some were on detours. No bus routes will be serving Columbia Center mall until further notice, the agency said Monday. Information will be updated on the transit website at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

benton county drift.jpg

Waste Management in Kennewick was picking up trash on its regular schedule, but residential recycling has been postponed until the next regular collection day.

Richland canceled its Monday garbage collection, both residential and commercial, and canceled its Tuesday residential garbage collection. Pick up will resume on the next scheduled collection day, with no additional charges for extra bags.

Basin Disposal had its garbage trucks on the street in Pasco on Monday. Trucks were behind schedule because of the snow, but were collecting as much garbage as possible.

Fire departments were asking for the public’s help to clear snow around fire hydrants in their neighborhoods so they would be available in an emergency.

franklin co stop sign.jpg

The Benton County Auditors Office is closing some ballot drop boxes in the county but will leave three open until at least 8 p.m. Tuesday for the Kennewick School bond elections.

Those that will remain open are at Kennewick City Hall and the auditor’s office annexes in Kennewick and Richland.

Ballots that are mailed must not only be mailed by Tuesday but must be postmarked by Tuesday.

Grocery store shelves are being picked over by shoppers preparing for bad roads, but spokesmen for both Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Fred Meyer say Tri-City stores are taking deliveries as normal and supplies should not run out.

More cancellations

Officials who watched the snow fall on Sunday and Monday made the decision to cancel or delay events or work Tuesday and Wednesday. They include:

Hanford employees will be back at work Tuesday on a delayed start. Workers in the 200 West Area and 100 Areas should report at 9 a.m., and workers in the 200 East Area and all areas south of the Wye Barricade, including workers in Richland, should report at 9:30 a.m.

All 4A and 3A basketball playoff games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday are now postponed to Wednesday.

Tri-Cities Regional Economic Outlook conference on Wednesday has been postponed. TRIDEC is working with TRAC in Pasco to reschedule.

The Hanford Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday has been canceled, along with a Public Involvement and Communications Committee meeting of the group on Tuesday.

Benton County Commission plans to hold its Tuesday meeting, but has canceled its Feb. 19 meeting.

Port of Kennewick Commission meeting Tuesday was canceled.

Richland School Board meeting Tuesday was canceled.

Pasco City Council’s special meeting at 6 p.m. is still planned but the 7 p.m. workshop session is canceled.

Pasco School District Board meeting Tuesday is rescheduled for Feb. 19 with a study session at 4:30 p.m. and the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m.

The Federal Building in Richland will open late at 10 a.m.

National Ski Areas Association promotes skiing and snowboarding safety by asking winter sports enthusiasts to 'Know the Code.'

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Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.