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Snow wallops South Sound. Now brace yourself for the Big Chill

The South Sound began digging out from the biggest snowstorm in a decade Saturday. Now, it’s going to get cold.

The mercury is predicted to drop to 16 degrees on Sunday in Tacoma, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter storm warning was in effect through Saturday afternoon in Puget Sound. Winds are forecast to reach 17 miles per hour Saturday morning.

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, light snow was still falling in parts of the region after 7 to 10 inches fell Friday night and Saturday morning across the lowlands of Pierce County.

Both Puget Sound Energy and Tacoma Power were reporting hundreds without power on Saturday.

Mother Nature will not be cooperating in snow removal. Temperatures will stay below freezing all weekend, the Weather Service said Saturday.

If snow should melt during the day, it will undoubtedly turn to ice over night. Temperatures are forecast to get just a handful of degrees above freezing all week. Friday should be the warmest day of the week with a high of 39 degrees.

After Sunday’s dip into the teens, lows will be will be in the 20s all week.

Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass is only open to vehicles with chains.

However, I-90 was closed in both directions from six miles east of Ellensburg to Vantage as of 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Tractor-trailer spin-outs are blocking the roadway and drifting snow is causing poor visibility. WSDOT could not provide an estimated time to reopen the highway.

U.S. 2 also is closed from Waterville to state Route 17. Extreme winds are creating snow drifts up to 3- and 4-feet high.

White Pass remains open but traction tires or chains are required for travel. The temperature at the summit was 15 degrees at 4 a.m.

The weather could turn breezy at times on Saturday but the strongest winds will stay north of Pierce County.

Flights into and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are affected by the storm. Alaska Airlines is allowing passengers to change their travel plans through Sunday. Passengers should check with individual airlines for the latest flight information.

Officials from nearly every public safety agency are warning about the dangers of the current weather. Deep snow, slick roads, winds and extreme cold can make for a deadly combination. They urge citizens to travel only if necessary.

The low temperatures also make for dangerous conditions for the region’s homeless population as well as anyone who might lose power during the prolonged cold period. If you lose the ability to heat your home and do not have an approved alternative heat source, authorities urge you to seek shelter elsewhere. Do not use improvised heating devices inside a home or other building.

Heavy snow is weighing down tree limbs which can snap off without warning. Trees have been falling during the night around the region. In turn, they’ve been taking down power lines.

Unprotected water pipes might freeze and burst. But the full extent of damage may not become apparent until warm weather returns and melt the ice well into next week.

More snow is on the way Sunday night to Monday morning, although the Weather Service is predicting one to three inches. Two other snowstorms are forecast to hit the region next week.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.