When Signe Garrett called the Industrial Way Les Schwab Tire Center Friday morning, she was told her wait would be five hours to get snow tires put on her car. With snow forecast to hit the area periodically over the next week, the Clatskanie resident decided it was worth the wait.
A winter storm warning for the area began Friday at 4 p.m. and is in effect until 4 p.m. Saturday. The National Weather Service is warning of widespread accumulating snow, causing slippery and hazardous road conditions.
The hills above 500 feet will see the highest amounts of snow, from 6 to 8 inches by the end of Saturday, said Matthew Cullen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.
The Weather Service is predicting 2 to 5 inches of snow on the ground this weekend and continuing chances of snow through next Friday. In the near term, snow showers are expected to taper off mid-day Saturday, Cullen said.
“Everybody will probably see something,” he said. “Some spots it will be closer to an inch, others could see three to four.”
The weather agency is forecasting for snow showers and periods of snow to continue through next week, along with subfreezing low temperatures and daily highs that will barely nudge above the freezing point.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Friday declared a statewide state of emergency in preparation for the winter storm. Hundreds of flights were canceled in Seattle and many businesses closed early Friday.
“Weather forecasters predict this may be a storm unlike one we’ve seen in many years,” Inslee said.
In Longview, Garrett was not the only one prepping her vehicle for the weather. Les Schwab assistant manager R.D. Gamble said the tire shop was busy all day Friday.
“Anytime it snows this is how it goes,” Gamble said. “Everybody waits until the last minute.”
Snow began falling in Longview at about 4 p.m. Friday, and after a short hiatus started falling again and sticking about an hour later.
Saturday’s temperatures are expected to hover around freezing, Cullen said, creating icy roads. The temperature is expected to dip to a low of 19 degrees Saturday night and rise to about 35 degrees on Sunday, so there won’t be a lot of melt.
Sunday should be mostly sunny, but snow will return overnight. Cullen said Friday it was too early to predict how much snow will fall Sunday night and Monday morning. Snowfall won’t be uniform across the area, he said.
Longview and Kelso school districts will wait until Sunday to decide if conditions are hazardous enough to cancel school. The school board and superintendent will work closely with the city and county road crews to analyze road conditions and before making a decision, said Rick Parrish, Longview District spokesman.
“We’re not going to start closing school days in advance when we don’t know how bad the snow will be,” Parrish said.
The district is in somewhat of a pinch for snow days because the teachers strike cost them eight days of school. The district adjusted the school calendar by shortening winter break to make up some of the time, but any snow days may need to be made up by tacking extra days to the end of the school year, Parrish said. The school board would have to decide.
The Kelso School District will have a maintenance crew begin clearing accumulated snow from parking lots on Saturday, said Beth Grambo, district spokeswoman. The district will do all it can to stay open, she said.
Cullen, the meteorologist, said it’s not abnormal for this area to get snow in February. Streaks of below-average temperatures follow the same trend, he said.
“It’s not uncommon, but it doesn’t happen every year,” Cullen said. “We’ll see how long this plays out. It could be quite cold for a week or more.”