Many Eastside residents woke up to a winter wonderland on Jan. 13, and snow continued to fall throughout the day.
Some Eastside cities received more snow than others, but the Seattle Weather Forecast Office of the National Weather Service (NWS), as of noon Monday, predicted there wouldn’t be much more accumulation that day, maybe up to an inch in some localized areas.
According to NWS meteorologist Gary Schneider, Kirkland received one to three inches overnight Sunday and into Monday.
He explained that there was not as much snow reported south of I-90 and that south Seattle received very little.
More instances of snow are possible later in the week. Schneider said there was another chance on Wednesday or Thursday.
Due to inclement weather, Lake Washington School District (LWSD) closed Jan. 13. All programs, activities and building use were also canceled.
In emergency situations, such as snow and icy weather conditions, the top priority is the safety of students and staff. The district also recognizes that snow days disrupt family schedules and extend the school year. The decision to close schools is not an easy one, according to the LWSD website.
It’s also complicated by the fact that the district covers 76 square miles, including low-lying areas next to Lake Washington as well as higher altitudes at Finn Hill, Education Hill and the Sammamish Plateau.
The decision process for closing or delaying school follows a strict guideline, the website state.
To help make the best possible decision, the district gathers a lot of information first. A meteorologist is on contract to provide pinpoint predictions for the specific micro climates around the area. The meteorologist helps the district understand which areas may be affected by upcoming weather and which may not, the website states.
Predictions are one thing. Actual conditions are another. That’s why LWSD’s transportation department staff is on the roads around the district at 3 a.m. if it looks like a school closure might be in order, the website states. They report real road conditions. Custodians may be asked to report to work early at schools so they can report on conditions at the schools themselves.
Once all the information is collected, the support services staff forwards it to the district’s administration, based on their best analysis of the situation, according to the district website. There are three options available: leave schools open, start late or close schools. Late start is used when conditions are borderline. The extra time and daylight make it easier for students to get to school safely.
For communication and administrative reasons, it is not possible to close just some schools in the district while leaving other schools open for district-wide weather events, the website states. So the decision has to be the best one for the safety of students in all areas of the district while at the same time avoiding unnecessary disruption.
Once the administrative staff gets the information from support services, they make a recommendation to the superintendent, who makes the final decision, the website states. If there is a closure or a late start, the staff begins the communication system to get the word out to parents, students and teachers.
When there is inclement weather, residents can learn about school closures or late start by 5:30 a.m.
If school is closed or starting late, there will be a pop-up alert box on www.lwsd.org.
Families can also go to www.flashalert.net, which lists schools all over the Puget Sound area. They can also sign up to receive text alerts or emails from this service.
Families can also call 425-936-1200 to listen to a recorded message. After 7 a.m., they may talk to a district receptionist. LWSD also uses the SchoolMessenger automated calling system to let parents know if school will be delayed or canceled. Calls will begin at 5 a.m.
According to the city of Kirkland’s website, snow plows are out and currently working to improve road conditions. As of Jan. 13, priority 1 and 2 routes have been plowed.
At 11:55 a.m. on Jan. 13, the city announced that there was a road closure at Northeast 90th Street, between 122nd and 124th avenues northeast.
Waste Management will not be collecting garbage and recycling due to the weather. Residents are encouraged to pull waste carts from the curve until the next scheduled service day.
According to Kirkland’s website, recreation programs are canceled. Community centers will close at 3 p.m.