Stay off the roads today unless you absolutely have to go somewhere, police said after responding to what might be a record number of weather-related troubles Monday.
"This was as bad as it gets," said Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin about Monday's road conditions. "Anything with a hill on it had cars getting stuck."
The storm wreaked havoc on city roads, delayed classes and temporarily shut down highways.
And while the snow was expected to taper off by this morning, road conditions are likely to get worse, as temperatures drop even lower.
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Already Monday night, many Mid-Columbia school districts had canceled elementary and middle school classes today, and many high schools are scheduled to start two hours late.
Hazardous weather conditions have prompted Hanford officials to delay the start of work today. Nonessential employees will report to work at 9 a.m. Only essential employees have to report at their usual times.
Employees are urged to use caution when driving to work and use main roads when possible.
After a cloudy start today, skies should clear up this afternoon, said Rob Brooks, a meteorological technician with the National Weather Service in Pendleton.
It will be 19 to 24 degrees during the day.
But it's going to get cold tonight, Brooks said. Temperatures will hover around zero degrees.
Wednesday will see about the same daytime highs, with slightly warmer air moving in at night.
On Thanksgiving Day, temperatures will rise to nearly 30 degrees, but the relief will be short-lived: Expect freezing rain Thursday night into Friday morning, Brooks said.
The weekend will bring the first nonfreezing temps of the week, reaching the low 40s on Sunday.
But before that happens, Tri-City drivers will have to contend with treacherous roads.
Between noon and 5 p.m. Monday, Benton County Emergency Services workers received nearly 450 calls -- almost all of them because of the storm, said spokeswoman Sara Schwartz.
The ice storm that blew through the region early last winter didn't cause this many 911 calls, she said.
However, nearly all of the accidents were minor, Lattin said. There were just a lot of them.
"It was as bad as I've seen it in years," he said.
Richland's head of all things snow plow agreed.
"I've been here eight years and I haven't seen a snow storm like this before Thanksgiving," said Steve Stairs, the city's transportation engineer.
His crews are trying to get the main roads cleared before it gets really cold tonight, he said. The de-icer used to combat tonight's freeze doesn't work well when spread on top of snow.
That's why Pasco is using a product called Ice-Slicer, said field division manager Jess Greenough. It's a granulate mixed in with the sand the trucks spread onto roadways.
They don't have enough granulate, sand or manpower to cover every street in Pasco, Greenough said.
Hills and intersections are priority number one.
Priority two are school zones.
Schools managed to open during the storm, albeit a little delayed.
Schools ran two hours late in all districts around the Tri-Cities. Many of them had previously scheduled teacher conferences for K-8, which meant school days would end early. Faced with a late start, many of those schools canceled classes altogether.
Columbia Basin College also canceled evening classes Monday.
If you're traveling to Seattle, allow for slow going through the mountains and don't forget the tire chains.
Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 was closed for eastbound traffic several times Monday.
More snow was expected today on the pass. Chains were required for all vehicles except those with all-wheel drive.
And those headed down the Columbia River Gorge toward Portland face similar challenges.
About 3 to 5 inches of snow was expected Monday in the western end of the Gorge. After freezing temperatures today and Wednesday, forecasters said Western Oregon will get slightly warmer with a chance of rain on Thanksgiving Day, and Eastern Oregon will stay below freezing.
People needing chains means no time off for those who sell them.
"We watched the weather forecast and told everyone they can't take the day off," said John Iwonow, sales manager at the Les Schwab store in Richland. "We were 100 percent staffed."
Good thing too, because a lot of people came in for studded tires and snow chains, he said.
In Pasco, Griggs Department Store experienced an early morning rush.
"First thing this morning, we had a line of people waiting outside," said store manager, Lance Norman.
Many of the eager customers were looking for products to keep them warm and safe: Boots, gloves, ice melt and snow shovels.
But many of them remembered that snow can be fun too.
"We sold a lot of sleds," Norman said.