Schools on Vashon close for a third day

A tree blocked Pillsbury Road S.W. Thursday. - Nance Scott/Staff Photo
A tree blocked Pillsbury Road S.W. Thursday.
— image credit: Nance Scott/Staff Photo

The Vashon Island School District announced Thursday that it would close schools on Friday — the third consecutive day — as a snow storm-turned-ice storm continued to pummel the region.

Dozens of ice-encrusted trees and limbs, meanwhile, toppled Thursday, knocking out power lines and making roads impassable, King County officials report. Jim Didricksen, who oversees Vashon's road conditions for the King County Roads Division, said he knew of 40 to 50 trees or large limbs that had fallen by Thursday afternoon.

Chainsaw-wielding road crews continue to work to clear roads, he said. "It's crazy. With this icy rain, it's terrible. There's so much weight on the trees," he said.

Roads officially listed as closed on Vashon are 103rd between S.W. 112th Street and Vashon Highway S.W., also known as “ferry hill,” 87th Ave. S.W. between S.W. Cemetery Road and Dockton Road at Ellisport and S.W. 268th on Maury Island. Several other side roads are no longer passable.

Freezing rain, which has continued off and on for several hours, has made road conditions particularly severe Thursday, Didricksen added. Conditions are so bad, he noted, that the Emergency Broadcast System actually announced the situation, a first in his experience in emergency road management.

Meanwhile, Rick Wallace with VashonBePrepared said in an email Thursday that about 575 homes in three different parts of the Island were without power as of 2 p.m. Crews hoped to have two of the outages restored by 3 p.m. Thurdsay; no estimated time for restoration was available for the third outage area, near the Tahlequah ferry dock, according to Wallace.

PSE got other parts of Maury Island, where there had been a widespread outage, restored by around noon Thursday. Some of those neighborhoods again lost power later in the day on Thursday.

Puget Sound Energy's media line, which provides outage information, did not return calls.

VoiceOfVashon, the Island's emergency radio broadcast system, continues to issue updates. Tune in at 1650 AM or visit its Facebook page.

King County buses, including 118 and 119 on Vashon, remain on snow routes. A few buses Wednesday were disabled, including one at Portage, one near Gold Beach and another at the south-end ferry dock.

The National Weather Service, meanwhile, is urging residents not to travel until conditions improve because of the ongoing ice storm.

According to the NWS, an ice storm warning means “severe weather conditions are imminent or occurring. Significant amounts of ice accumulation will make travel dangerous or impossible. Travel is strongly discouraged…Ice accumulations will likely lead to snapped power lines and falling tree branches that add to the danger.”

The NWS's latest forecast for Vashon shows freezing rain until 4 p.m. Thursday, followed by freezing rain mixed with snow and an 80 percent chance of precipitation. Total daytime snow accumulation of one to two inches is possible, the NWS reports. Friday is expected to see rain, with a high near 45 degrees, according to NWS.

The Harbor School also announced its closure on Friday. The Vashon Park District, which is following the school district’s closure decisions, has suspended operations as well, including all classes scheduled for the Performance Room and the Vashon Senior Center.

The passenger-only boat between Vashon and Downtown Seattle is sailing on its normal schedule.


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