The Puget Sound region has had one of its largest snowfalls in years, causing a number of problems for the Marysville and Arlington areas, and forcing local schools to cancel classes and businesses and city offices to close early on several days.
Snow began falling on Feb. 3 and the majority of it lasted throughout the week. As communities began to recover from the fist snowfall, a second round of snow blanketed the area beginning on Feb. 8, with more snow predicted for this week.
"It's been a number of years since we've seen a storm like this, especially with the ongoing aspect of it," said Connie Mennie, communications administrator with the city of Marysville. "And with the temperature staying below freezing every night the roads have not really had a chance to thaw out.”
Often snow and ice are melted by the middle of the day, but with the temperatures in the region hovering around 30 degrees or lower for most of the week there wasn't much time for the significant amount of snow to melt.
Crews in both cities have been working since Sunday, Feb. 3, in clearing the roads.
Marysville has been working under two 12-hour shifts, "so some staff have been out on the road at all times," said Mennie.
Public works crews were picking up those shifts through the entire week.
"We usually don't have to go that many days straight, 24/7, but we're doing it," said Mennie.
Arlington workers went out on 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3.
"We had three trucks with plows and sand and salt going. The crews worked 12-hour shifts through Monday night to ensure our arterials, major and minor, stayed open and the runways [at the Arlington Municipal Airport] were cleared," said Kristin Banfield, communications manager with the city of Arlington.
They didn't get to neighborhood streets until around Tuesday, said Banfield, along with clearing the airport roadways, and school district parking lots/driveways.
"Many of these were already compact snow and ice, so we applied the sand/salt mix to give traction and try to get the melting process going," she said.
Banfield said over the first three days of the first storm they used about 250 tons of sand/salt mix on the roads. The ratio the city uses is about 6 parts sand and 1 part salt, she said.
"As of Tuesday [Feb. 5], we had approximately 100 tons of salt/sand already mixed, with an additional 200 yards of sand and 100 tons of salt on hand for the potential next round.
The city of Marysville approached the winter storm similarly.
"Our snow/ice removal plan prioritizes the main arterials, starting with the roads that come from or lead to the highways," said Mennie.
After those streets, the city targets heavily used roads that would be dangerous because of hills and roads that are needed by emergency services.
Finally, the city tries to clear any other roads that receive a lot of traffic.
"We don't really have the resources to get out to all the small neighborhood roads or cul-de-sacs," said Mennie.
The city's full snow and ice removal plan, along with a map, is available on their website at marysvillewa.gov.
The Lakewood, Marysville and Arlington school districts also responded to the weather with snow days on Feb. 4 and 5 and late starts on Feb. 6 and 7. Lakewood and Arlington had early release on Feb. 8 while it was another snow day for Marysville.
School officials usually go out early to assess conditions on the road.
“They will go out to different areas that we service in the district at about 3 a.m. in the morning and make a determination,” said Gary Sabol, director of communications.
"Our transportation director, Kim McAbee, and some of our staff are out and driving," said Marysville School District Superintendent Jason Thompson.
Those officials along with the superintendent make a decision about when or if to start school.
“We want to make sure that it is safe for kids to be transported to school. If there is any concern about that, that is why would delay or cancel school,” said Sabol.
"We want to run school, it's best for the parents and the students, sometimes it's just not safe though," said Mike Sullivan, director of finances with the Marysville School District.
All three local school districts use flashalert.net for quick notification, and also post decisions on their Facebook page and district websites.
Lakewood and Marysville have built-in school days on their calendar.
"We have two snow days built into our student calendar and we will be using those days to make up the two missed days. The make-up days will be Feb. 15 and May 24," said Brandy Stamey, public information officer with the Lakewood School District.
Marysville's make-up days are on March 15 and May 24 and any additional days off will fall at the end of the year, as will Arlington's make-up days.
“As a school district we don’t have any ‘built-in’ snow days, so those days will be made up at the end of the school year,” said Sabol.
Some forecasts show the winter storm lasting past press time and into the week of Feb. 11-15.
Mennie said that the city of Marysville cancelled many of its events last week and will continue to next week if necessary.
She advises people to stay home if they are able and "know what your vehicle can do" if you are going out.