Snow in the San Juans | Editorial

Snow struck suddenly Sunday, Jan. 12 — or so it seemed. Though warned by the weather forecast that winter was coming, it appeared many islanders were underestimating just how much winter was coming in only a few days.

The islands saw accumulations from a few inches to about a foot last week, causing the already laid-back island living to come to a screeching halt.

Like many others across the county, I was trapped up a steep driveway surrounded by the soft white powdery snow that accumulated rather rapidly for three days. While my cats adored the fact I was working from home, and my career permitted me to do so, many islanders still battled the slick roads to go to and from their jobs.

Some businesses closed early or entirely to protect patrons and employees. The schools either had delayed start or were also closed as busses were unable to pass down side roads to pick up kids in isolated areas. County public works employees worked extensively, driving from one side of the island to the other and back again, clearing the streets with snowplows.

Facebook seemed a helpful tool in deciding whether it was safe to venture away from the warmth of our wood stoves into the unforgiving cold. The rant and rave groups of Lopez, San Juan and Orcas were filled with people questioning the status of the roads in various areas of the island.

On both San Juan and Orcas, “road report” groups were created for locals to share what road conditions were like in their neck of the islands. San Juan’s grew quickly, with more than 700 joining within the first two days.

I’m excited to see if these pages continue to thrive throughout the year, as people share the conditions of their roads during high wind storms or other natural events that can cause travel disruptions.

It’s comforting how the island community comes together to ensure everyone is safe and well informed before attempting to drive in potentially dangerous areas. Neighbors shoveled walkways and driveways. Those with proper snow-going vehicles offered rides or helped pull those less prepared from drifts and ditches.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the silver lining when the world seems so dreary, but it’s there — especially in the islands. We still have a community that loves and supports its neighbors.