Snow plows on Mill Creek Road

Crews plow snow on Mill Creek Road near Walla Walla Community College.

According to the National Weather Service in Pendleton, this month has set a record for snowfall in Walla Walla with 19 inches measured as of Wednesday. The previous record snowfall for February was 13.3 inches in 1994.

Since Feb. 20 at least 7.2 inches of snow has fallen in Walla Walla, but data is missing for Tuesday which means the total amount is probably higher. That figure also does not include what fell overnight.

Along with the snow, this month has been much colder than normal. As of Wednesday only two days, Feb. 2-3, were above the normal average while the remaining 25 days have all been below average.

The weather was deemed hazardous enough Wednesday for Milton-Freewater Rural Fire Department to offer advice on winter weather safety and help on its social media page. It also advised people to remove snow from their car roofs, as it could hit other cars while driving, hindering their sight.

The rural fire department’s Chief Rick Saager said he didn’t want people, particularly older people, attempting even to get their prescriptions or walk to their mailbox.

“We will be happy to help people with medications that need to be picked up,” Saager said. “We’re just trying to keep older folks safe from this weather.”

With that in mind, the agency posted this online:

“Stay home! Your mail can stay in the box an extra day. If you fall down outside, it will take us more time to get to you. If you need your medicine from the drug store, and it is in Milton-Freewater, call us. We will go get it for you. Call 541-938-7146.”

The agency also reminded people to make sure chimneys are clean and nothing is in front of portable heaters. Do not use an extension cord to plug in portable heaters, the post stated. Also, let water drip in the sink so pipes will not freeze.

From Sunday to this morning, the Walla Walla region had 18 reported vehicle collisions, Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson said. That area includes Walla Walla, east to Clarkston and College Place, he said. Wednesday morning saw five collisions in Walla Walla, but Tri-Cities had 43.

“The vast majority have been people driving too fast for the roadway conditions,” Thorson said. “Drivers need to adjust their speeds.”

He also said people should ensure their vehicle has good tires, and all- and four-wheel drive cars were faring better than rear-wheel drive only.

“Travel is not advisable,” the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office advised residents Wednesday morning on its social media page, posting a photo of U.S. Highway 12. “One lane in each direction and very slow going.”

Walla Walla Streets Division said it was “caught up” with plowing and de-icing roads Wednesday morning, and would service equipment, according to the Walla Walla City Government’s social media page. Then, it would check for slick areas and watch the weather. Today, it said all the arterials were plowed and crews were working on the residential routes.

City streets crews and water distribution employees worked the roads, while parks and recreation staff cleared snow from sidewalks, including around city-owned buildings and parks, as well as downtown ramps, its social media page stated.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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