‘Snowmageddon’ comes and goes

The San Juan Islands were struck by a snowstorm that brought most activities to a halt last week.

As news of snow falling on the mainland reached the islands, many locals joked in community Facebook groups that they felt cheated by the winter storm — only getting the high winds but not the “snowmageddon” of 5-8 inches that was forecast.

But beginning on Saturday, Feb. 9, the islands experienced scattered snow showers for the next four days that accumulated several inches of snow in various locations. The depth of snow and ice on roads stranded people in their homes as they waited for the storm to pass.

Community members used those same Facebook groups to communicate with each other about the quality of the streets. They also applauded neighbors for helping to clear snow, or for their assistance in traveling to town.

Orcas and the north and west sides of San Juan Island were subject to the most snow, the San Juan County Department of Emergency Management reported on Feb. 11. Work crews worked from 5 a.m. until after the last ferry to clear the main roads of the islands – known as Priority 1.

Orcas Island Fire and Rescue ceased operations in its business office on Monday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 12, urging everyone to call 911 if there was an emergency. Due to unsafe flying conditions, both of the local air ambulances were unable to transport two patients from Orcas Island on Feb. 12, so OIFR called in the search and rescue team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, which offers its services in such situations.

San Juan Island School District ran on a delayed schedule on Feb. 11, 14 and 15, it was closed Feb. 12 and 13. Lopez Island School District operated on a late schedule on Feb. 11 and 14, and had a pre-scheduled half-day on Feb. 15. It too was closed on Feb. 12 and 13. Orcas Island School District closed for the entire week.

Several events and community meetings were canceled during the storm and rescheduled for a later date. Businesses ran on truncated schedules so that employees could make it to and from home easier.

The sun came out on Wednesday, Feb. 13, and the snow began to slowly melt as temperatures reached into the mid-30s.