Get set for a spectacular Fourth The Fourth of July weekend pretty much guarantees barbecues and fireworks, and this year promises fair weather, good fishing and construction-free highways. Here’s some information to help your weekend planning:
The forecast for the weekend is high temperatures in the upper 60s by Sunday and in the 70s Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.
There is a threat of showers today and Saturday in the mountains, with the freezing level at 8,000 feet. Coastal weather will be about the same, with a lingering threat of showers Saturday. Sunday will be partly cloudy.
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The warm weather will be in Eastern Washington, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s today and then in the mid-70s to the mid-80s over the weekend.
INTERSTATE 5 TRAFFIC
The state Department of Transportation is suspending its concrete rehabilitation project on I-5 between Lacey and Tacoma tonight through Monday night.
OTHER HIGHWAY TRAFFIC
Peak travel times on Puget Sound-area highways will be from noon to 9 p.m. today and early Saturday. Monday afternoon travel will peak just before noon and continue into late evening.
Drivers likely will see weekend delays on U.S. 2, Interstate 90, I-5 at the Canadian border and I-5 south of Olympia through Lewis County, officials said.
Drivers on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass can expect higher-than-normal traffic volumes this afternoon, Saturday morning and Monday afternoon. Drivers should also expect additional traffic on U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass, primarily today and Monday.
State-run liquor stores that normally are open on Sundays will be open on July 4th, from noon to 5 p.m. For a list of state stores open on Independence Day, go to www.liq.wa.gov.
On Monday, most state liquor stores will be open at their normal time of either 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the state is $2.98 per gallon, according to AAA Washington. That’s 7 cents higher than last Fourth of July.
The average nationally is $2.73 per gallon, 4 cents above last year’s price.
AAA projects a 17.1 percent increase nationwide in Americans traveling this holiday weekend over last year.
BEFORE YOU GO
To stay on top of highway traffic: Call 511 for current traffic incident and closure information or check the state’s travel website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic, for traffic camera images from across the state, the state ferry schedule and a map showing highway incidents and closures.
The heaviest ferry traffic is expected today westbound and Monday eastbound. Extra runs have been put on some routes in the San Juan Islands. Most routes will run on their regular summer weekend schedules.
A record number of people are expected on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, B.C., routes.
The Point Defiance/Tahlequah route will operate on its regular summer weekend schedule Sunday and Monday. That schedule includes an extra midday run: 12:35 p.m. from Point Defiance and 1 p.m. from Tahlequah.
For more ferry system information, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries
CAMPING AT STATE PARKS
Late comers will be hard-pressed finding a site at the popular parks. Campsites usually fill up early with reservations and today is too late to reserve a campsite for the weekend.
Would-be campers could luck out if someone booked ahead and cancelled at the last minute. You’ll have to show up at the campsite to take advantage of that.
Nightly rates range from $19 to $24 for tents and $25 to $33 for a utility hookup.
Remember: No fireworks are allowed in state parks.
LOOKING FOR SNOW?
Mount Rainier National Park still has a great deal of snow at higher elevations, so visitors should check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/mora for the latest information.
Paradise and Sunrise have 6 to 8 feet of snow and trails there remain covered. Lower elevation trails are relatively free of snow.
Cool weather and lingering snowpack has delayed the opening of the Mowich Lake road until July 9.
Sunrise will open today, though water system issues might limit some visitor services over the weekend.
Visitors can ride the free weekend shuttle to Paradise from Longmire or Ashford. At Paradise, the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center is open.
GO FISHING, CRABBING
Salmon fishing has begun in waters stretching from the upper Columbia River to the Pacific Coast.
Rather catch some crab? Seven popular areas of Puget Sound opened to fishing for Dungeness crab Thursday, including marine areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass/Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan/Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).
There’s a daily limit of five Dungeness crabs in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 61/4 inches, and only males in hardshell condition can be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed. A shellfish license is required.
State enforcement officers will be working overtime throughout the holiday weekend.
The state’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet is available from license vendors statewide and posted at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/. Anglers also can call state’s fishing hot line at 360-902-2500 for updates.
Area rivers and lakes still are very cold and the rivers remain fast-moving and extremely dangerous, local officials warn. Trees and logjams in rivers pose dangers for the unsuspecting.
Hypothermia from cold water can be a problem. Officials urge wearing thermal protection.
All boats must have a Coast Guard-approved life jacket for everyone on board. Always wear a life jacket while boating or floating on an inner tube, officials say. Children younger than 12 must wear a life jacket while on any boat less than 19 feet.
BARBECUING AND FIRE SAFETY
Lee Britt, deputy fire marshal with the Tacoma Fire Department, offered these safety tips for barbecuing on grills:
• Use starter fluid designed for charcoal grills and don’t add fluid after the coals have been lit.
• After using a charcoal grill, put used briquettes in a pail and douse them with water.
• When using a gas grill, make sure all connections are tight. Turn off all flames when changing the propane bottle.
• Keep a garden hose handy when using an outdoor fire pit or setting off fireworks.
• Don’t bring a barbecue grill inside.
• Don’t clean a grill until it has cooled. If a burn blisters, seek medical advice.
FORESTS, FIREWORKS DON’T MIX
Fireworks are prohibited from state trust land and though rain and cooler weather have kept the fire danger low, officials want people to remember there still is a fire risk.
Know local fire restrictions, be sure your campfire is completely out and have a spark arrester on all off-road vehicles.
Unattended campfires, fireworks, faulty vehicle or motorcycle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are among the common sources of wildfire starts in Washington state.
Staff writer Joyce Chen contributed to this report.
Mike Archbold: 253-597-8692 firstname.lastname@example.org