‘Treacherous’ Ice Storm Delays Christmas Travel, Closes Major Roadways Friday 

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Cold weather, car crashes, collapsed public works trucks, road closures signal start of weekend

Isabel Vander Stoep /

The night before Christmas Eve, ice covered all of Lewis County, extending from Packwood to its western border.

On Friday morning, residents across the area received a notice from the Lewis County Warning System warning them of a “dangerous” situation and advised them not to move unless it was “absolutely necessary.”

Much of western Washington saw between 10 and 1/4 inches of ice overnight on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Service in Seattle. Meteorologist Samantha Bose said Friday morning’s weather forecast had continued all morning.There hadn’t been an ice storm of this magnitude in the area since 2012, she said.

A winter storm warning was in effect Thursday through Friday night. Temperatures in the 20s were recorded at Chehalis-Centralia Airport from 4:35 pm Wednesday to 10:35 am Friday. Bose said temperatures will warm through Friday afternoon and evening, reaching around 45 degrees Celsius near midnight, along with possible rain and melting ice.

About 1,000 Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) customers in the Ashford area and 400 in the Mosilok area experienced a power outage late Thursday night, spokesperson Daniel Hargrove said. Crew members were able to quickly restore power to those areas, he said, adding that as of Friday morning, only 18 of his customers in Mosilok had experienced a power outage.

“It was a blessing,” said Hargrove.

Centralia City Light did not see a power outage as of Friday.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) closed U.S. Route 12, State Route 508 and State Route 7 Friday morning, affecting travelers throughout Lewis County.

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza said he had responded to more than a dozen vehicular accidents by 11 a.m. Friday, saying Lewis County Public Works could not reach many areas to distribute sand. He added that the roads were in the worst condition he had witnessed. .

Public Works Director Josh Metcalfe said after sending workers out onto the road around 4 a.m. Friday, his team found the roads were not safe for work trucks to travel, so they sent everyone to work. We said we decided to revert.

Metcalfe advised travelers to check the county’s Public Works and Emergency Management Facebook page for updates on the situation. Even with the weather getting warmer all day, he said the fewer people on the road the better.

“The less traffic there is, the more work the crew can do safely,” he said.

Around 2 a.m. Friday, public works crews answered a call about a fallen tree on Cispus Road in Randle and totaled it when a tree fell on top of a county truck.

“That’s the risk of a midnight callout,” he said. “No injuries, but the truck is a total loss. …The truck is replaceable.

The NWS will closely monitor the Chehalis River throughout the next week as Bose warns of heavy rains and melting ice and an increased chance of flooding. Ross McDowell, of the Lewis County Emergency Management Department, said the area is “very unlikely” to experience major flooding over the next week, but a combination of heavy rains and thaw could cause Rundle’s Cowlitz flooding. He said he was closely monitoring the river. rise.

McDowell said his biggest concern about Chehalis was the presence of “king tides” on the coast, which could back up currents downstream in Grays Harbor County.

The Lewis County office, including the Superior Court, was closed for the day on Friday because employees were unable to travel.

Ice rain occurs when a warm layer of the atmosphere meets a colder layer in front of the surface, as opposed to snow, Bose said.

For our Emergency Management Facebook page, please visit up for text or email alerts from the county at

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