Baby, it’s cold outside! This holiday song echoes North Sound December weather thus far. With the winter solstice just days away on December 21st and La Nina in place offering the strong likelihood of cooler than average temperatures and wetter than normal precipitation, the North Sound may be in store for one or more significant snow events through early next year.


The weather outlook through Christmas Day maintains cooler than average temperatures with snow levels dropping to 1000 feet or so at times. The probability of a white Christmas historically is only a 5 percent chance, or another way to put it – a one in 20 chance. The last significant white Christmas was in 2008. With a second consecutive La Nina winter season, the odds of a white Christmas may be a bit higher. Stay tuned!


Snohomish County Public Works is ready to respond to winter weather and has some helpful reminders for any hazardous weather that strikes the area and impacts county roads. Road Maintenance is responsible for about 1,600 total miles of unincorporated county roads with a priority of roads that crews work to keep clear of snow and ice.


The top priority is primary routes based on traffic volume, bus routes, terrain, and experience with problem areas. Emergencies involving life safety during a winter storm may change these top priority guidelines. To keep these primary routes passable, multiple snowplow passes and road treatments may be required.


Snohomish County Public Works has a new snow removal and anti-icing map that shows which routes are primary and secondary and allows residents to view what county roads have been recently plowed, sanded, or had anti-icing applied. This map is part of the Snohomish County Public Works snow and Ice webpage for road closure information in unincorporated areas and more. 


All other routes will be addressed on priority, existing resources, and weather conditions. Public Works staff note prioritization does not change based on public calls requesting service.


Road Maintenance uses an anti-icing liquid – Calcium Chloride – in pre-determined areas when weather conditions and forecasts are appropriate for this kind of treatment. These efforts help to keep roads from icing up just in advance of the winter weather.


Be sure to give snowplows and deicer equipment plenty of room on the road to perform their jobs. Allow at least 200 feet of following distance and if you must pass, use extreme caution and be aware of displaced snow, ice, and sand spray.


If snow is in the weather forecast, move your vehicle(s) off the street and park them in driveways and garages so the snowplows can more effectively finish routes in a timely manner. For major arterials and emergency routes, vehicles in travel lanes and blocking traffic may be towed at the owner’s expense.


Avoid clearing snow from driveways into the street, creating a hazardous condition. Move snow to the side of driveways and sidewalks instead. Also, clear snow from drainage inlets near your home to help reduce the chance of melting ice and snow pooling and flooding. Keep trash bins off streets when roads are covered with snow and ice as well.


Public Works Road Maintenance staff operates within COVID-19 safety protocol for everyone’s safety. They remind everyone to please remain at least six feet away from Public Works staff.  


Have your car ready for winter weather including tires with plenty of treads, and stow a shovel, kitty litter, blankets, food, and water in your vehicle in case you find yourself struggling with winter weather driving conditions. Another good option is to stay home during snowy weather. Be sure to bookmark and use the weather page for your site-specific local North Sound forecast information. Have a safe winter weather season and as always, when you are weather aware, you are weather prepared.

North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.