Holiday travelers battle traffic and winter weather conditions

MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Drivers who hit the roads in Western Washington may have seen a mixture of rain and snow. It’s one of the reasons why Washington Department of Transportation is asking drivers to plan ahead this holiday for delays.

Some of the heavier snow we saw early this afternoon turned into slush. The concern is that as the temperatures drop, the wet roads will turn to ice and make for dangerous driving conditions for this Christmas weekend.

Holiday travelers aren’t just contending with traffic this year but Old Man Winter.

“We drove down at about noon today heading down from Bellingham to Seattle, and it was a blizzard,” said Scott Clough.

Thanks to that snow, Steffani Valdez and her 8-year old son’s trip from Grandma’s went from a five-hour drive to eight.

“We went to visit great Grandma at Corvallis, Oregon and we are on our way to Oak Harbor and didn’t expect it to snow,” said Valdez. “Some of them have been driving crazy and some of them have been going 20 under the speed limit; it just depends on who it is.”

The conditions kept WSDOT crews busy, maintaining roads and responding to calls for help.

“WSDOT has got the crews out there but we also need drivers to be engaged,” said WSDOT spokesperson Andrea Petrich. “If they see plows or other equipment make sure to give them plenty of room but also lower speeds and don’t be in a hurry to get where you need to go.”

To make matters worse, WSDOT reports unstable rock on northbound Interstate 5 will cause further delays for travelers.

“We have kind of an emergency rock situation on the hillside and we’ve got a contract crew working to pull those out, so there are going to be some backups heading into Bellingham,” said

So whether you’re the Cloughs heading to sunny California Saturday or the Valdez’s heading back home to Oak Harbor, the conditions Friday will be enough to keep them off the roads for a while.

“As soon as we get home, I’m staying put; it’s too cold,” said Valdez.

WSDOT expects drivers heading northbound I-5 toward Bellingham or Canada could see backups for two miles during peak periods this holiday travel weekend.