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Snow blankets Whidbey again

A Ford Ranger ends up in a ditch on Highway 20 Thursday morning after hitting a slick patch of ice near the intersection with Jones Road. The pickup smashed a telephone box.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
A Ford Ranger ends up in a ditch on Highway 20 Thursday morning after hitting a slick patch of ice near the intersection with Jones Road. The pickup smashed a telephone box.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

March will come in like a lamb tomorrow, at least compared to the lion-like departure of February.

Snow hit Whidbey Island again Thursday, causing several vehicle accidents and morning delays.

An estimated one-and-a-half to two inches of snow fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and road crews began plowing at 5 a.m.

It was a far cry from December’s historic two-week bout of ice and snow, but it still affected life on Whidbey.

Since midnight on Wednesday, Sheriff Mark Brown said 12 accidents occurred but there were no major injuries.

“Most of the damage was to property, car wrecks or running off the road,” he said Thursday morning.

Oak Harbor schools and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station each had a two-hour delay.

Snow covered the entire island, but didn’t deter Island Transit from making its appointed rounds.

But Oak Harbor public works officials said drivers must continue to be cautious, and the snow and ice season may not be over.

Rich Tyhuis, operations manager for streets and water, said the late morning hours are always the most dangerous for driving.

“The roads are very slippery. We had the roads cleared this morning and now they’re frozen,” Tyhuis said Thursday. “The sun is out and it’s putting a glaze on the roads.”

Road crews quickly switched from plowing to sanding major intersections. The weather warmed up Thursday afternoon.

Island County Engineer Bill Oakes also advises motorists to be cautious whenever snow is on the roads. County trucks were out early sanding hills, but he said they can’t do everything.

“No amount of public works activities or sign postings can keep all vehicles safe from icy conditions all of the time,” Oakes said. “Drivers that plan ahead and pay attention to road surface conditions are in the best position to avoid trouble.”

Brown said that one trouble spot has been the hill on Swantown Road that exits the city. With the high level of reported accidents, Brown recommends drivers be alert to forecasts and prepare for the next day’s commute.

“They may have to stay home if they’re not equipped with the right tires, or use an appropriate vehicle,” Brown said. “It would be great to give yourself a three to four hour delay going into work, and save us the need of pulling you out of a ditch.”

Accuweather.com predicts a high of 49 degrees today and low of 37 tonight, and a high of 52 on the first day of March. It looks like snow for the year may be gone, but that’s what many were saying earlier this week.

Community Events, April 2014

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