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UPDATE | Snow not expected to last
The worst appears to be over after South Whidbey drivers were greeted with a sudden and intense hailstorm and snowfall this morning.
An afternoon snow shower is possible in some areas, but the general forecast is for dry and cold weather the next few days, then a warming trend with rain by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The narrow band of snow out of the northwest that stretched across the South End to the King-Snohomish County line early this morning dumped as much as three inches of snow in some areas, coating roads and making driving dicey.
Highway 525 and side roads from Clinton to Freeland were a slick mess, with snow mixed with freezing rain — and north of Freeland, Skittle-sized hail — reported by 6 a.m.
The blizzard ended abruptly south of Greenbank, however, and between Greenbank and Coupeville not a flake could be found.
Not all areas in the South End were hard hit by the weather. Parts of Scatchet Head got a mere dusting in areas near the water, but further north, near Bailey Road to Bayview Corner, more than an inch of snow fell. From 2 to 3 inches of snow were reported in the Langley-Maxwelton Road area by 7 a.m. About three inches of snow was reported near Lone Lake.
Island County Fire District 3 responded to two vehicles that had gone off the road in the Langley area, one on Langley Road, the other on Saratoga Road, said Deputy Chief Mike Cotton.
Another vehicle was discovered in a ditch along Crawford Road, Cotton said.
"It was slippery driving conditions, but those were the only incidents of significance so far," Cotton said shortly before 9 a.m. "It still looks a little slick, especially on the side roads."
Johnny Burg, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said the sudden snowstorm was caused by a trough of cool air moving north-northwest, turning rain showers into snow and hail.
Burg said the forecast is for clearing skies with temperatures into the high 30s today and Thursday, dipping to the teens and 20s at night.
"It looks to be kind of cool for the next couple of days, but we'll be dry at least," Burg said.
He said sunshine is expected to continue into Friday and New Year's Day, with a warming trend and more rain beginning Sunday.