Fire district faced quiet weekend on South Whidbey, despite snow melt, high winds

While other areas around Puget Sound faced flooding, power outages and falling trees during the weekend, South Whidbey was mostly quiet.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS responded to 18 calls between Saturday and Monday morning, though none were related to the Sunday night windstorm or wet weather that followed five days of snow last week.

"The snow started to go away and it was uneventful," said Deputy Chief Mike Cotton. "It was busy but routine."

Wind gusts as high as 60 mph were expected late Sunday, though temperatures rose quickly from below freezing to a low of 39 degrees over the weekend. Combined with the sudden downpour, and that led to increased risk of downed trees and landslides, though none were reported to South Whidbey Fire/EMS.

"It was breezy at my house most of the day, it was significantly quiet as far as a windstorm goes," Cotton said. "I'm surprised, as well."

Heavy rainfall and the massive melt-off of last week's snow didn't translate into flooding problems on the South End this weekend. One landslide was reported in Scatchet Head, and a portion of George Drive was temporarily closed while community volunteers removed the mudslide from the private road.

The weather desk at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island reported a high wind speed of 52 mph for the week ending Sunday.

Roads were icy Monday morning, though the low was above freezing at 37.9 degrees. Still, the fire department was not called to any accidents on the first day of a snowless week.

"I did notice it was very slippery getting to work this morning," Cotton said. "I think everyone took the necessary precautions."

During the snowstorm, the South End's fire stations were not staffed. That worked out well, officials said, as the volunteer force was able to respond to every call it received, despite some of the hills on South Whidbey being too icy for residents to drive. The fire department had a winter driving review and practiced putting on chains for its rigs.

"We prepared our drivers and our vehicles to drive in the snow," Cotton said. "We didn't experience any difficulty getting to the calls."


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