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Snow blankets South Whidbey

Monday’s snow blankets a farmhouse, barns and pasture near Useless Bay. - David Welton / The Record
Monday’s snow blankets a farmhouse, barns and pasture near Useless Bay.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

BY JEFF VANDERFORD

AND SPENCER WEBSTER

South Whidbey Record

South Enders woke up to a surprise snowfall Monday, and the blast of winter weather delayed the start of school and was blamed in more than 30 accidents in Island County.

“What happened last night? It snowed,” said National Weather Service forecaster Johnny Burg. He said a mix of snow and rain hit the Seattle area with as much as 4 inches of snow depending on elevation.

“For the balance of the week, Whidbey Island is looking at rising temperatures in advance of a warm front moving in from the southeast with more rain.”

The amount of snow that fell varied across the island.

Scatchet Head seemed to get the most, with about four inches falling between midnight and 7 a.m.

Bayview, Langley and Freeland saw barely an inch. About two inches of snowfall was reported near Goss Lake and Oak Harbor, and just under three inches fell just south of Coupeville.

As the air warmed, by noon Monday only scattered patches of snow remained in many areas.

South Whidbey schools began two hours late Monday and buses drove designated snow routes.

School district officials — including Fred McCarthy, Dan Poolman, Brian Miller, Veronica Schmidt, Todd Brager and Joe Anastasi — met at 4 a.m. to assess road conditions.

“They drove around to make sure the roads are safe, then contacted an emergency media Web site to let radio stations know and get the word out,” said district spokeswoman Sue Terhar. “It’s standard procedure when the weather turns bad.”

School officials weren’t the only ones checking out roads.

Island Transit supervisors went out early, as well.

“We didn’t shut down any routes, though we did have to re-route to Scatchet Head because of the hill and no sand on the pavement,” said operations manager Shawn Harris.

Harris said some buses didn’t run quite on time because slick streets made drivers slow down. But riders understood and accepted delays in good spirits.

Local hardware outlets reported business as usual — for the most part.

“We had two people in to buy snow shovels and some inquires about sleds, but those are gone,” said Yvonne Hall, a cashier at Sebo’s in Bayview.

Maybe the Boy Scouts got them. At Ace Hardware in Freeland, Nyree Simonsen said the Scouts special ordered six last week.

“Could be they knew something we didn’t know,” she said.

At Jim’s Hardware in Clinton, Linda Alexander said two sleds went out the door but she has several left in stock.

“We sold a couple bags of ‘Snow and Ice Melter’ but I think we need more than a whiff of snow to get people in the mood,” Alexander said.

Despite the cold weather and frozen roads, relatively few minor accidents were reported on the South End, Fire District 3 officials said.

“We’ve had four or five reports of cars off the road,” said Fire District 3 Deputy Chief Paul Busch.

Some drivers slowed down on the highway and on side roads but still had a difficult time negotiating slippery roads. Others drove as if they were on dry pavement, whizzing past slower drivers.

Busch said people should slow down in rough weather conditions, especially since roads can still be coated with ice when temperatures drop.

“The roads are going to be getting more slippery at night, turning to solid ice,” he said.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office responded to 34 accidents across Island County, but only seven accidents occurred on the South End.

“When you see weather like this, it is not unusual to see this number of accidents,” said Undersheriff Kelly Mauck.

Even Island County Sheriff’s Office vehicles had a tough go driving into work Monday morning, Mauck said.

“Most of our vehicles are two-wheel drive and we had just as much trouble as other folks,” he said. “It took me more than two hours to get to work today, when it normally takes me one and a half.”

Slip-sliding drivers kept Simmons Towing busy.

“We had a slug of them,” Gordon Simmons said with a laugh. “We’re still going. The most interesting one was a car that was resting sideways on a road in Scatchet Head.”

Simmons had parked his rig and was getting ready to hook the cables up on the car when his own rig began sliding down the road, too.

Luckily it stopped before it went too far, Simmons said.

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