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Whidbey Islanders deal with a snow day

Oak Harbor resident Debbie Gallo runs down SW Third Avenue Wednesday morning. She planned to run her usual six miles despite the several inches of snow that blanketed Whidbey Island.   - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor resident Debbie Gallo runs down SW Third Avenue Wednesday morning. She planned to run her usual six miles despite the several inches of snow that blanketed Whidbey Island.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Debbie Gallo is training for a 50K trail run and she won't let some snow get in her way.

While schools closed and motorists slid around on the roadways, Gallo was running six miles through the snowy roads of Oak Harbor Wednesday morning. She has to keep up with her training so she can participate in the Chuckanut Mountain 50K run that takes place in March.

"It's beautiful. I love it," Gallo said as she was about half way through her morning jaunt. She loves running in the snow because it's quiet and peaceful and provides some cushion for her feet.

And she had plenty of snow to enjoy. Several inches of snow fell throughout the morning. And, with the cold temperatures in the region, it looks like the white stuff is going to stay for a while.

The snow prompted school officials in all three Whidbey Island school districts to cancel classes Wednesday. All athletic events and extra curricular activities were also canceled in Oak Harbor School District along with a number of public meetings and events.

Superintendent of School Rick Shulte worried that the snow might last for longer than just a day. With all the snow on the roads and freezing temperatures predicted tonight, he expected schools to at least be delayed on Thursday, or possible canceled again. The district's Web site keeps students and parents up to date.

People ventured outside Wednesday morning regardless of the snow and ice.

Gilbert Hogemire was walking down Pioneer Way with a bag of groceries in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. He decided to get some shopping done but didn't want to risk driving on the roads.

"I'm going to be glad to be inside," Hogemire said as he was walking down the sidewalk.

Jeramy Rouse and Shawn Kraemer had a day off when Whidbey Island Naval Air Station closed down. But because they weren't on duty doesn't mean they weren't keeping busy. They were walking into Safeway to pick up some groceries for their respective families.

"We're doing our wives' bidding," Rouse joked as he headed into the store.

Students not bound for school Wednesday had a chance to build snowmen and enjoy the snow. Eleven-year-old Nicklas Walsh was up at 4 a.m. to see the snow fall. By 10 a.m., he was getting ready to start rolling snow for a snowman.

The early morning trip up the highway on Whidbey Island was slow going for the drivers who attempted it. Compact snow covered the road most of the way though no spinouts or other accidents were evident. With schools closed, traffic was down considerably.

By noon, Highway 20 in Oak Harbor was turning slushy, but it would likely freeze up again later in the day. Accuweather.com predicts a low of 18 degrees overnight in Oak Harbor.

All parts of Whidbey appeared to have received three to four inches of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Weather forecasts call for more snow today and tonight.

The entire island was covered with a blanket of snow, providing a winter wonderland scene to early risers Wednesday. Roads were white, trees were draped in snow and the island was unusually quiet as many people chose to stay home from work or leave later than usual.

Island Transit buses were running up and down the highway. "It's bad out there," said a spokesman at 7 a.m. Wednesday as phones rang incessantly in the background. He said the buses would try to stay on schedule on the main highway. Some side routes were still being utilized, but there was no certainty due to the continuing snofall. Anyone on a side route thinking of taking the bus should first call to make sure it's running. From North Whidbey, call 678-7771, from South Whidbey, call 321-6688.

The snow prompted organizations to call off a number of planned meetings and events for Wednesday night. The News-Times will post announcements on its Web site. Please email any meeting or event changes to editor@whidbeynewstimes.com.

— News-Times editor Jim Larsen contributed to this story.

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