A snow-filled weather front that moved north from Oregon and parked itself over Thurston County on Tuesday blanketed the area with several inches of snow and made life difficult for commuters on Interstate 5.
There’s a chance of snow the remainder of the week. Daytime temperatures are expected to be in the 30s, while overnight temps are forecast to dip into the lower 20s, according to the National Weather Service.
The snow arrived in south Thurston County Tuesday morning, resulting in multiple car crashes along a stretch of I-5 near Maytown. Commuters likely were driving too fast for the conditions, but no one was injured, Washington State Patrol Trooper Brooke Bova said.
While many school districts in Lewis and Grays Harbor counties cancelled or delayed school, or released students early, most Thurston County public schools were on a planned mid-winter break Tuesday. However, Pope John Paul II High School, South Puget Sound Community College, The Evergreen State College and Saint Martin’s University, which were in session, all cancelled late afternoon and evening classes.
Elsewhere in Thurston County it was calm. Puget Sound Energy reported a few scattered outages, while a Thurston County 911 dispatcher said there was no increase in collisions as a result of the snow. Safety measures taken by Thurston County road crews likely helped.
Those crews applied de-icer Tuesday morning on priority routes in the county, such as on Old Highway 99, Yelm Highway, Littlerock Road and Steamboat Island Road.
“There was more snow in south Thurston County, so we focused on that area,” said Lucy Mills, road operations manager for the county.
Bitterly cold weather also has triggered a need for warming shelters.
Thurston County activated its “code blue” response on Saturday, which increased local shelter capacity.
Expanded shelter options for single men and women are available in Olympia at Salvation Army, 824 Fifth Ave. SE, and Union Gospel Mission, 413 Franklin St. NE.
Also in Olympia, Family Support Center’s Pear Blossom Place, 837 Seventh Ave. SE, is available for families with children needing shelter, and Community Youth Services, 711 State Ave. NE, is available for youth ages 18-24.
For more information, call the county’s coordinated entry shelter and housing hotline at 844-628-7343.
The city of Yelm also has made its Public Safety Building, 206 McKenzie Ave. SW, available as a warming destination.
As for the forecast, the snow was expected to taper off Tuesday, but a second weather system is expected to arrive Wednesday night, said Art Gaebel of the National Weather Service. That system will bring snow to the coast, but not likely to Thurston County, although it will remain cold enough.
Meanwhile, as snow fell in Olympia, it was 38 degrees and dry in Seattle, Gaebel said.
National Weather Service meteorologists anticipated 2 to 4 inches of snow would fall in Portland Tuesday.