Preparations underway as ice storm set to hit Western Washington

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Snohomish County has been through the wringer lately when it comes to extreme weather events.

The major windstorm in November knocked out power for thousands, including Zach Malm and his family.

“We didn’t have power for 45 hours last time and that was extremely not fun,” he said.

A few weeks later, a major snowstorm hit the region, took down trees and power lines, and once again left thousands in the dark.

“Was the worst power outage I’ve experienced in my 40 years living here,” Malm said.

Now, an impending ice storm is threatening Western Washington. For Malm, the timing couldn’t be worse.

“I got pies I gotta cook, bake and you know we got stuff to prep for Christmas,” he said. “I’m really excited to host my family and I hope it happens.”

The storm is forecast to have a major impact on the region, but Aaron Swaney, a spokesman for Snohomish County PUD, said the utility isn’t expecting a lot of outages.

“We don’t generally see trees coming down with this kind of weather. That’s usually just wind storms and that’s usually what causes a lot of damage and causes the outages. That’s why we’re not concerned a lot about a lot of outages for this storm,” Swaney said.

Still, he said crews are ready to respond as needed.

“We have crews ready to respond, we’re stocked up on all of our supplies and equipment so customers can be confident if we start to see outages we’ll be out there on restoration efforts,” Swaney said.

At Seattle City Light, Jenn Strang, the spokesperson, said they are concerned about the damage the storm could bring.

“When we get ice forming like that, the one consideration would be is if it does form on trees it sort of weighs those trees down and then if there are any sort of cracks or loose branches then they have a tendency to come down, connect with power lines and bring the power lines down,” Strang said.

She also said the ice could cause power lines to snap.

“Just the weight of the ice on the power lines themselves, it sort of weighs them down but as the ice melts, it snaps back up,” she said.

Meanwhile, Malm is still prepping for Christmas.

“I got my eggnog shirt all ready for the festivities, you know,” he said.

He’s hoping the lights stay on this time.

“We didn’t get any sort of communications warning us last time and ended up getting outages all over,” he said.