To start the New Year, local agencies reported minor vehicle incidents throughout Sequim and Clallam County despite icy roads and sub-freezing temperatures.
Depending on elevation, Sequim saw 1-3 more inches of snow starting on Dec. 30 adding to Christmas Day accumulation before snow began to melt days later leading to the icier conditions across the area.
Temperatures in Sequim rose to above 40 degrees, with most downtown Sequim roads clear by early January. Sequim schools, however, opened to a two-hour late start on Jan. 3 and were closed completely the following day because of hazardous road conditions, cancelling after-school programs and extra-curricular activities.
Trooper Katherine Weatherwax with the Washington State Patrol reported there were only three reported collisions in Clallam County from Dec. 31-Jan. 3.
Deputy Police Chief Mike Hill for Sequim Police Department said they responded to two collisions in that time frame — one at the River Road roundabout due to ice, and another near Safeway.
Hill said City of Sequim Public Works crews continue to put deicer on main city arterials and switch to sanding when temperatures drop too low and cause the roads to freeze.
Sarah VanAusdle, interim Sequim public works director, said city road crews from Christmas Eve through Dec. 31 worked 550 hours to plow, de-ice, sand, shovel, and more main arterials. In total, crews added 200 yards of sand, 8-10 tons of salt, and 2,500 gallons of de-icer over the week, she said.
Sgt. Amy Bundy with the Clallam County sheriff’s office reports that from Dec. 31-Jan. 4, there were nine vehicle collisions: 10 calls to help motorists out of ditches and/or calls for tow trucks, six attempts to locate individuals, and three parking complaints.
Bundy said one collision had minor injuries and was turned over to State Patrol, and a vehicle hit-and-run south of Forks where it knocked down a power pole.
“Most of these calls were people looking for their friends and loved ones because they could not get a hold of them during the inclement weather,” she said.
As for parking complaints, Bundy reports they were generally about vehicles in the way of snow plows.
Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King Brian King told the Peninsula Daily News they responded to nine unattended deaths since Christmas, which is “slightly above the norm”
“We can’t say if any were directly related to COVID or the weather,” King added.
Assistant fire chief Dan Orr with Clallam County Fire District 3 said their first responders went to four vehicle wrecks Dec. 31-Jan. 3 as well as to a transformer fire that caused power lines to go down in Diamond Point, flooding 3 Crabs Road, and a few homes with broken pipes from the freezing temperatures.
Scheduled work on the Hood Canal Bridge was postponed because of the inclement weather. The bridge will now be closed for five-hour stretches next week: 11 p.m.-4 a.m. Tuesday evening, Jan. 11 through early on Friday, Jan. 14.
All work on the bridge is weather-dependent and could be rescheduled, state transportation officials said. Because of the nature of the work, the bridge won’t open for any traffic, including emergency response. The five-hour overnight closures allow crews to continue work on a project that replaces and bolsters bridge equipment.
With more snowfall, the rope tow and tube run are open at Hurricane Ridge, announced the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, which operates the ski and snowboard area. However, the Poma lift won’t be available “until we get a lot more snow,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
The winter sports center, 17 miles from Port Angeles in Olympic National Park, is open daily through Sunday, weather permitting. The road is scheduled to be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with hours dependent upon weather conditions. Motorists are required to carry chains.