The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for Kitsap, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Lewis, Grays Harbor, and Mason Counties today, and Governor Gregoire has declared a state of emergency in Washington. Most runways at Sea-Tac are closed, and an estimated 120,000 customers in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are without power this morning, with more outages likely today. Nearly all major school districts in the Puget Sound region are closed.
Why are we having an ice storm? With higher atmospheric temperatures bringing rainfall and a layer of low temperatures near the ground, rain is turning to ice and snow and creating treacherous conditions on roads and dangerously heavy, wet snow and ice on trees and buildings.
Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Michalski said this is the first ice storm to hit the Seattle area since December 1996. Michalski warns that the warm air may not fall low enough in time today to melt ice on roads to improve conditions for afternoon commuters.
Bainbridge Island Assistant Fire Chief Luke Carpenter asks citizens to report downed power lines or outages to Puget Sound Energy at 888-225-5773. He adds that pedestrians and drivers should use caution because of possible danger from falling tree limbs.
This morning on Bainbridge, Carpenter reports that Fletcher Bay/Miller Road is particularly hazardous, with packed snow and ice, and Highway 305 is slushy and slippery.
Late yesterday afternoon Station 22 responded to a sledding accident near Baker Hill. An injured young man was treated for abrasions but not transported. There were no weather-related calls during the night, but ice storm conditions are expected to bring calls today.
With assistance from the BIFD, Inside Bainbridge will continue to report on weather-related events on the Island throughout the ice storm.
Image by TheatricAL.