The first major snow of the season made for both treacherous road conditions and winter fun on Whidbey Island this week.
The North End saw almost half a foot of snow. Navy spokesperson Michael Welding said just under 6 inches accumulated on the base on Tuesday. According to South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Terry Ney, the South End topped out around 4 inches, though roads were still slick with packed snow and ice.
First responders kept busy with higher call volumes, though getting to the sites of emergencies was complicated by snow and ice on the roads.
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue interim Chief Chris Swiger said that the island’s northernmost fire district had avoided any major incidents as of Thursday, though driving to calls took the firefighters a little longer than usual.
South End responders were similarly hindered, Ney said.
“We had a medical call that was complicated by the weather, as it resulted in a medic unit, an aid car, and a tow truck all getting stuck in a driveway, and requiring a second tow truck and a second medic unit to respond,” he wrote in an email.
On Tuesday morning, two semi trucks collided at the intersection of Highway 525 and Deer Lake Road in Clinton because of the slick road conditions. No one was injured, but the fuel tank on a reefer trailer was damaged, resulting in a diesel spill, Ney said. South Whidbey Fire/EMS kept the spill out of the storm drain. The highway’s southbound lanes were blocked for several hours because of the incident, and ferry traffic had to take a short detour.
Ney reported that South Whidbey Fire/EMS responded to three other non-injury vehicle accidents brought on by the snow as of Thursday morning. The department also responded to three chimney fires, though Ney noted that it’s impossible to know whether those were strictly weather-related or would have happened, anyway.
The snow also spurred shut-downs across the island. All three school districts were already out for winter break, but the county office in Coupeville was closed on Tuesday and opened late on Wednesday.
Many Island Transit bus routes on Whidbey and Camano islands were temporarily suspended or modified throughout the week. Route updates can be found on the Island Transit Facebook page or by signing up for rider alerts at islandtransit.org.
Sno-Isle Libraries, including the five on Whidbey, did not open until noon on Tuesday because of the weather, and delayed openings continued throughout the week.
In Oak Harbor, City Hall closed early on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Garbage pick-up was delayed on Wednesday morning.
The cold, snowy weather didn’t deter people from having fun, however. People found myriad ways to enjoy the snow, including sledding and building snowmen. A few brave joggers were even spotted running through the drifts.