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First major snow of winter hits island

Zoe and Kayla Gran race down a hill at Community Park in Langley on Sunday. - David Welton / The Record
Zoe and Kayla Gran race down a hill at Community Park in Langley on Sunday.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

For some people, the snow that arrived Saturday night was a major pain. For others, mainly children, it was a time for joy.

Some folks dealt well coping with winter’s first onslaught.

In Freeland, Dave Campbell at Scotty’s Towing said things were pretty quiet, considering.

“We haven’t been too busy, I think mainly because people are wisely staying off the roads,” he said.

Campbell added that he dragged one car out of harm’s way Sunday morning, but otherwise hadn’t received many calls.

In Clinton, drivers hadn’t been as careful, according to tow truck driver Gary Peterson from Simmons Towing. He hauled several cars out of roadside ditches on Sunday.

“Usually, folks don’t say much in that situation because they’re a little embarrassed. They were just going too fast for conditions,” he said.

Cold conditions will be in place the balance of the week.

Forecaster Johnny Burg from the National Weather Service in Seattle said an offshore system would warm the air slightly today and Thursday, so the South End might see either snow or slushy rain.

“For now, it looks like sunny and very cold with highs in the upper 20s and lows in the high teens on Friday,” he said. “Maybe some precipitation late on Saturday, but either way there will be lots of black ice on the roads.”

Youngsters throughout the South End quickly took advantage of the snowy situation earlier this week.

Early on Sunday, James Plessy, 7, and his buddy Peter Smith, 9, were out testing their father’s classic 1950s vintage Flexible Flyer on a snowy Clinton slope.

“You need to get some speed on and be sure not to turn too fast,” James explained.

Why is that?

“Well, I’ve gone into that ditch a couple times,” he replied solemnly.

At Sebo’s Hardware in Bayview, Rose Tosh reported that ice scrapers, faucet covers and ice melt solutions were flying off the shelves.

“Everyone seems to be coping pretty good so far,” she said.

By late Sunday, South Whidbey school officials were out on the roads to determine if school should start late due to snow on Monday morning.

Transportation supervisor Veronica Schmidt, District Superintendent Fred McCarthy, chief mechanic Todd Brager and technology supervisor Brian Miller drove between Freeland and Clinton between 5 and 9 p.m.

McCarthy determined school would start on time on Monday, but all buses would be traveling on special snow bus routes.

“The bus goes to the fire station at Bailey and French roads, but beyond that it’s unsafe,” Schmidt said. “I ran into some really bad black ice on Bailey Road. The purpose of driving around is to see what we’re up against.”

But as it became clear that snow-delayed students and staff were having problems negotiating the bad roads and showing up late, on Tuesday morning district officials decided to allow a two-hour delayed start.

School buses are prohibited from going to Scatchet Head, and certain areas near Goss Lake and Saratoga Road, when enough snow falls.

The problem this week was snowmelt that froze after the temperature dropped, which made some of the South End’s winding roads too tough for some drivers to handle.

Schmidt said that the district’s transportation Web site — www.sw.wednet.edu/sites/departments — is updated daily to provide parents information on snow delays and closures.

“The word is that snow is coming back to town late Tuesday and all day Wednesday,” Schmidt added. “Safety is the ultimate factor when we make these decisions.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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