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Monday morning snow storm hits Whidbey Island

A snow storm striking Western Washington Monday morning brought much of Whidbey Island to a virtual standstill.

Forecasts say between one and four inches of snow will fall on the Island Monday. The snow is making roads slick and is prompting the cancellation of events in local schools.

However, the students seemed to enjoy the snowfall, waiting impatiently to head outside.

"An hour ago we were waiting for it to stick," 10-year-old Coupeville resident Ethan Tack said as he was playing with his brothers, Harrison and Lucas.

Coupeville schools didn't have any classes Monday due to parent teacher conferences. Superintendent Patty Page said staff decided to cancel conferences for Monday due to the deteriorating snow conditions. She said she didn't want parents to risk coming in for conferences and she wanted to make sure staff made it home safely. She couldn't say whether conferences scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday would take place.

While students in Coupeville enjoyed a day off, their counterparts in Oak Harbor attended classes. Joe Hunt, spokesperson for the Oak Harbor School District, said schools remained open Monday, although afternoon kindergarten and preschool are canceled.

Hunt said once school starts, the district is obligated to keep students for the full school day. Staff doesn't want to risk sending students home to an empty or, worse, locked house.

Despite the snowy day, businesses remained open and people were still trying to drive on Whidbey Island roads. Some were enjoying the rarely seen snow falling on the island.

"We haven't seen snow like this over the cove before," said Chris Tomayko, who co-owns Mosquito Fleet Chili located on historic Front Street in Coupeville. "It's sorta cool."

Motorists were dealing with slick roads as reports of minor auto accidents were plentiful.

Dave Chesson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said work crews are busy sanding highways. If enough snow accumulates on the highways, then work crews will start plowing. He added that it appears several cars have spun out on Highway 20 around Deception Pass, which makes it difficult for motorists to travel on and off Whidbey Island.

In addition to the snow buffeting Whidbey Island, Chesson said WSDOT is bracing for high winds that should hit Whidbey Island and parts of Skagit County. According to a wind advisory, 25 mph to 35 mph winds with gusts reaching as high as 50 mph are expected to blow through the region.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said staff always get nervous when high-speed winds are forecast. Staff have generators on hand to keep water and sewer running in the event of a power outage.

Tuesday's forecast is for a clear and cold day with a high of 31 and a low of 17.

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