UPDATES: I-5 reopens after 7 1/2-hour closure, including a burst of snow

(SCROLL DOWN for latest – as of 6:15 pm, most of the closed freeway stretches have reopened)

(WSDOT traffic cam closest to the truck wreck – refresh page for newest view)

2:38 PM: I-5 is still shut down both ways north of the West Seattle Bridge, four hours after a tanker truck went sideways on the southbound side near I-90 (see our earlier coverage here). This is affecting vehicle traffic just about everywhere. But the process of offloading the wrecked tanker’s cargo to another truck is getting going, so we’re launching this afternoon report and will keep you updated here.

2:50 PM: As tweeted by SDOT, here’s the current closure list:


3:43 PM: Complicating things, the snow’s back, after thunder/lightning. There’s an alert for wintry showers until mid-evening. And it’s covering the street FAST.

Definitely heavier than the snow showers we covered just at morning light, 9+ hours ago.

4:18 PM: The snow’s finally easing, here and elsewhere in the city. Meantime, the tanker-truck offloading continues. We’re adding traffic cameras here by request shortly, to help (if that’s even possible) with the pm attempts to get home. But first:

That’s a 4:15 pm look at the Water Taxi line at Pier 50 – thanks to Christian Buhagiar for the photo. Here’s the WT schedule.

4:39 PM: State Patrol says what’s now described as propane (earlier, they said butane) is still being offloaded. And that’s just the prelude to pulling up the truck, and likely some cleanup and other followups after that, so don’t expect I-5 to reopen any time soon.

5:06 PM: To check the cameras on potential alternate routes, see our traffic-info page. Meantime, commenters say the 4:45 pm Water Taxi to West Seattle left at capacity and there’s a big line for 5:15 pm. We’re getting bus-delay reports too. No easy way to get back home today.

5:33 PM: Water taxi’s 5:15 pm run is reported to have been at capacity too:

5:43 PM: And as for the wreck itself:

5:59 PM: Thanks to ACG for pointing out that South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) has announced both its campuses are closed tonight because of the weather.

6:12 PM: The reopenings have begun …

And a moment later, WSP tweeted that southbound AND northbound I-5 are reopening – only the collector-distributor lanes (where the crash happened) will remain closed for now.

8:30 PM: Everything is open again, including the collector-distributor lanes.

86 Replies to "UPDATES: I-5 reopens after 7 1/2-hour closure, including a burst of snow"

  • Alissa H February 27, 2017 (3:14 pm)

    I saw somewhere that the Water Taxi was also down. Do you know if it will be running for the evening commute?

  • iggy February 27, 2017 (3:44 pm)

    Thunder snow just started in Morgan Junction.  Definitely an afternoon to stay off the roads.

    • AJ February 27, 2017 (4:08 pm)

      I knew I heard thunder! It’s snowing hard in Sunrise Heights with huge flakes. Earlier, we had “shail” pounding against the windows. 

  • Sukie February 27, 2017 (3:57 pm)

    The snow is dumping here in Gatewood and sticking–crazy weather day for sure.

  • The Velvet Bulldog February 27, 2017 (4:00 pm)

    Weird hail/snow mixture here. What do you call that? Snail? Shail? We’re gonna need more words for “snow” if this keeps up!

    • AJ February 27, 2017 (4:09 pm)

      I’m going with “shail,” but I’m sure one of our resident weather experts will weigh in with the official term. :-)

    • Elisa February 27, 2017 (4:09 pm)

      that was mostly graupel – dry white pellets 

    • Kirsten February 27, 2017 (4:22 pm)

      Sleet or freezing rain apparently!

  • Petert February 27, 2017 (4:01 pm)

    Temperature dropped 5 degrees in they many minutes, in the junction at 3:45. Hail conering the road at Calif/Edmunds.

  • ImmaMom February 27, 2017 (4:02 pm)

    hows admiral way from the bridge up to California? Slippery for cars without all weather tires?

  • Paul Binder February 27, 2017 (4:05 pm)

    streets are getting slippery, so for those that “Think” they need to drive fast….rethink that.  I was almost rearended 3 times traveling south on California from the License place to the end where you have to turn (WSBHQ corner)…

  • West Seattle Hipster February 27, 2017 (4:13 pm)

    Roads are not too slick (yet), my drive from the Junction to Gatewood was uneventful.  However, I did see several AWM’s in large pick up trucks driving fairly aggressively, hope there are not too many accidents.


  • Amy Thomson February 27, 2017 (4:15 pm)

    NB traffic on W. Marginal backed up past Fergusson’s Plumbing.  At least 10 mins. To get through the 5- way intersection!

  • Andy February 27, 2017 (4:15 pm)

    Been at 3rd and pine waiting for the 120 for 15 minutes and no busses have stopped. Close to 100 people waiting for busses at this stop alone. 

    • Andy February 27, 2017 (4:16 pm)

      3rd and pike going southbound. Sorry. 

      • Andy February 27, 2017 (4:31 pm)

        A 125 came empty and filled up at this stop with people left over. That was the only bus that has stopped here in 30 minutes. 

        • Alyca February 27, 2017 (5:17 pm)

          I spent 30 minutes waiting on 2nd and Columbia for a 120 or 125. Finally walked up to 3rd and Seneca and crammed onto the first 125 that actually stopped after another 30 minute wait. Never saw a single 120 go by and only 2 of the 4 C lines that came actually stopped, because they were jam packed

      • Sandra February 27, 2017 (4:48 pm)

         Andy – Did the 120 ever come?  I’m not excited about standing in the cold for hours waiting for an over crowded bus.


        • Andy February 27, 2017 (4:51 pm)

          The 27 just came. It’s almost been an hour and no 120. I will take the next bus that comes that will get me close to Westwood. 

          • Andy February 27, 2017 (4:58 pm)

            Another 125 just came. Am on it. No more updates from me. Good luck. 

  • flimflam February 27, 2017 (4:17 pm)

    yep, the temp dropped from about 40 to 35 in the time it took me to get from the top of queen anne to ballard and went from rain to driving wet snow in that time also…wild.

  • Alki Resident February 27, 2017 (4:19 pm)

    Happy Epic Fail Day everyone

    • Jen February 27, 2017 (4:59 pm)

      You are awarded 800 Internet points and 14 gold stars for summing up today in a caption. Well played. 

      • Alki Resident February 27, 2017 (5:23 pm)

        Thank you. Sitting at home watching all this go down really is mind boggling. I got chills seeing that food truck on I-5 serve up the people. If I ever see them around, I will be shaking their hand.

  • LilWash February 27, 2017 (4:27 pm)

    Downtown is a mess. No bus to West Seattle has been through in 30 minutes and cars are traveling on third backing it up.

  • squareeyes February 27, 2017 (4:28 pm)

    Will make sure to use the restroom before getting in the car today.  Could be in traffic for awhile.  :)

  • leslie February 27, 2017 (4:33 pm)

    still no buses at Seneca andb3rd southbound. Only not in service green buses and trolleys. Been 30 minutes. No alerts from metro!

  • WestSeattleCoug February 27, 2017 (4:36 pm)

    56 outbound already standing room only with 3 stops to go…just left Virginia.

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (4:51 pm)

      I’m not seeing any route-specific alerts from Metro, so I think the blanket warnings about delays from the I-5 closure and then delays from snow are meant to warn that just about everything is off-schedule…

  • Taxi rider February 27, 2017 (5:00 pm)

    4:45 sailing of water taxi left passengers at the dock.

  • Michael February 27, 2017 (5:04 pm)

    Just heard one of the Water Taxi employees say that the 4:45 to WS went out with 278. Line is already back to the street for the 5:15. 

    • Brian February 27, 2017 (5:34 pm)

      5:15 left people on the dock as well.

  • Sw February 27, 2017 (5:08 pm)

    Southbound commute through SODO and Westbound over the bridge was a breeze. 

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (5:10 pm)

      Did you take 1st or 4th or something else?

    • Naomi February 27, 2017 (5:16 pm)

      I also took 1st ave south to the west seattle bridge at about 4:30. Aside from the ramps by the stadiums, which were backed up due to poor traffic light timing, it was smooth driving for me. Northbound 1st looked terrible, though.  I also found 35th Ave from Avalon to Morgan to be pretty clear around 4:45.

  • Sandra February 27, 2017 (5:13 pm)

    Two 120s in a row just left 3rd and Pike.  Wish me luck getting home. 

  • Ann February 27, 2017 (5:15 pm)

    First Hill is absolute gridlock no matter which direction you try to go. 45 minutes to go 0.3 miles. Finally just parked and getting dinner. Insane!

  • Dave February 27, 2017 (5:18 pm)

    I hope those responsible for a 7 hour closure of I 5 and I 90 are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

    • West Seattle Hipster February 27, 2017 (6:09 pm)

      I read on another media site that the truck driver was following too closely.  We shall see…………..

  • Sheri February 27, 2017 (5:24 pm)

    Have been on First Avenue for over an hour trying to go the 7 blocks from Union to Columbia (and I’m not even to Madison yet!). Any reports on how 99 south and/or the West Seattle Budge is once you’re on it? 

    • Sheri February 27, 2017 (5:52 pm)

      Happy to report that it was smooth sailing once on 99 south, just took me 15 minutes from the Columbia onramp to home (Morgan Junction area). So 2.25 hours from 6th and Union total!

  • C-commuter February 27, 2017 (5:30 pm)

    Any updates if C line is able to get through downtown to West Seattle? I waited at bus stop on Westlake from 4:15pm to 4:40pm, it was blocked and no bus came through.  

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (5:32 pm)

      One person told us via Twitter that the C was “flying” after it got out of downtown.

      • C-commuter February 27, 2017 (6:05 pm)

        Thanks for the update. I will try the bus again in 30 mins. 

  • 4of10 February 27, 2017 (5:31 pm)

    We have tickets for the 7:30 show at the Triple Door. How is the NB 99 traffic flowing?

  • Michael February 27, 2017 (5:32 pm)

    5:15 Water Taxi left some behind too. Running about 15 minutes late, understandable given time to load and unload. 

  • Pavla February 27, 2017 (5:34 pm)

    Going I-5 north. A big line up for both the West Seattle bridge/Columbia way exit as well as I-90. It’ll be a while!

  • Earlybird February 27, 2017 (5:36 pm)

    Got lucky catching a 120 at 2nd and Columbia. A bus across 520 and light rail was a nice alternative to the 550 on 90. Unfortunately there is now a wreck at the WS high point off to the side that is slowing traffic a bit. 

  • Alki February 27, 2017 (5:37 pm)

    Just got on the 37 on 4th and Lenora after waiting for an hour for it to show up. 

  • ACG February 27, 2017 (5:44 pm)

    Got a text that evening classes and activities are cancelled at South Seattle College tonight due to “inclement weather”

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (5:55 pm)

      Thanks! Now that you pointed it out, I see they tweeted that too. Will include in narrative.

  • Ken February 27, 2017 (5:45 pm)

    Link to arrivals at faunt and alaska. The “c” with delays over an hour are not even on the app anymore. th 6064 is still at lenora.

  • David February 27, 2017 (5:46 pm)

    5:15 water taxi at capacity, running 15 min late

  • JayDee February 27, 2017 (6:01 pm)

    Avoid West Marginal Way NB approaching the 5-way–nearly 1-mile back up; better to retreat to Cloverdale and cross at Morgan/Sylvan/whatever.

  • AMD February 27, 2017 (6:01 pm)

    The tanker is on its wheels!  I can see it in the camera!!

  • WSB February 27, 2017 (6:20 pm)

    As updated in the narrative, almost everything’s reopened. 

  • Poc February 27, 2017 (6:32 pm)

    Thank you WSB.  I just looked at Komo, K5 and Kiro and their updates are totally lacking.  This accident is not even headline news on their sites.  I am trying to guide someone from Bellevue to WS and needed to know where to send them (I-90 or 405 through Burien).  Only through your sight was I able to determine with accuracy what was going on.  You come through for us once again.  Shame on the other 3 news agencies for not caring enough to help us.

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (6:40 pm)

      Thanks for the kind words. Doing the best we can … it’s been a long day, going back to the 4:30 am power outage and 6 am first burst of snow. But we have it easy … compared to the folks who’ve been out there all day trying to make sure this could be taken care of safely, and the folks just trying to get from point A to point B. “Loaded-with-flammable-substance tanker truck on its side” had a whole bunch of much-worse potential outcomes. Anyway, I hope the person you’re guiding gets here safely! – TR

      • HappyOnAlki February 27, 2017 (7:56 pm)

        Yes, thanks, WSB! Once again, you come through in the clutch — and it seldom gets any clutchier than today!

    • dsa February 27, 2017 (7:13 pm)

      Earlier during their evening news hour channel 13 did a great job.  Their traffic map was even better than Seattle.gov since it included Rainier Ave and MLK.

  • nw February 27, 2017 (6:37 pm)


    • Buckeye1 February 27, 2017 (6:50 pm)

      I second this route! I have done it before and made it home hours before others. 

    • Sue H February 27, 2017 (7:11 pm)

      I normally take light rail to SODO for the 50 when downtown is a mess, but there was an earlier alert about the 50 being rerouted on SODO and I didn’t know if it was still going on. 

    • nw February 27, 2017 (7:57 pm)

      Traffic is only going to increase as more people move here and Seattle becomes more and more attractive while it worsens look into alternatives to your “normal commute”. If it’s a real mess days on end look into jefferson transits page on transit options north and beyond. 

    • LAintheJunction February 28, 2017 (7:50 am)

      My husband waited over an hour in SODO for the 50 after taking light rail south from UW. It wasn’t a miracle answer, sadly. 

  • Mike February 27, 2017 (7:20 pm)

    Go to Edmonds  Kingston Bremmerton Port Orchard Vashon Fauntleroy and you are almost home

  • Alki res6 February 27, 2017 (8:08 pm)

    It worries me that we don’t seem to have a backup plan to get folks out of the downtown core when a truck (be it salmon or propane) shuts down I-5.

    The busses seem to keep driving on their routes or only mildly re-routing until they get stuck in traffic molasses.  I like the link —> rt 50 method as well as the water taxi.   But the water taxi can’t take everyone and as another commenter wrote, we weren’t sure if rt 50 would re-route either.

    I feel like there should be stronger communications and suggestions from SDOT (WSDOT? King County metro?) about alternatives.  Because of course this will happen again. As it stands the best advice is from WSB comments.  Which are usually pretty helpful of course.

  • JN February 27, 2017 (8:30 pm)

    Thankfully biking back from downtown wasn’t any more difficult than a usual wintry day. I was definitely worried that it was going to be rough when I saw all the snow coming down and sticking, but luckily it melted pretty quickly. I’m really glad I didn’t take the bus today! I remember the last time we had a snow event that caused delays like this, and it sucked!!

  • CR February 27, 2017 (9:14 pm)

    I agree with the earlier comments.  WSB reporting was far more informative and timely than the reporting from the big local news organizations.  Thanks again WSB…you guys/gals rock!!!

  • Bellen February 27, 2017 (9:20 pm)

    What happens if a real disaster ever occurs??

  • Stuck at another light with now crossing traffic in sight February 27, 2017 (10:52 pm)

    Did anyone see a single traffic cop to alleviate the snarled traffic?

     Time to get some traffic lights that are responsive to changing traffic patterns.



    • WSB February 27, 2017 (10:56 pm)

      What might be more in order is more automatic closure arms for freeway entrances (like the ones for the Viaduct). I can tell you anecdotally from a day of scanner-listening that many officers were being deployed to road/highway closures. I don’t have numbers but that’s part of the followup info we and I’m sure many others will be pursuing – TR

    • Sue H February 28, 2017 (6:10 am)

      I wish there had been one at 3rd and Seneca. So many drivers coming West on Seneca were gridlocking the intersection on 3rd and preventing buses from getting through.

  • Neighbor February 27, 2017 (10:52 pm)

    It really pisses me off to see single-occupant drivers and cabs drive down the bus-only lanes. Also the many speeding drivers, I’ve seen so many tonight since I gave up on the bus (didn’t let anyone on after a 30min wait at Columbia) and walked home to the Alaska junction. It boggles my mind that people are spending 45 min. driving 0.3 miles. I would park it and walk. Taking my bike tomorrow unless it’s a sheet of ice. 

    • West Seattle since 1979 February 28, 2017 (11:09 am)

      Not everyone is able to walk from downtown to West Seattle.

      • newnative February 28, 2017 (11:41 am)

        Love that patent answer.  I was in an office full of people who chose to join the traffic jam the second it started snowing-“I have to leave early!”  Only to complain later about being stuck in traffic. There may be some disabled drivers, but I’m sure many made the choice to clog up the roads.  

        As noted, a lot of the buses’ problems were exacerbated by cars on 3rd Ave-where they are NOT allowed during commuter hours.  

  • Free eech February 28, 2017 (1:00 am)

    Assumption that everyone can walk it or bike home

  • SeattleSunburn February 28, 2017 (10:54 am)

    After enduring hour-plus (plus) waits at 2nd/Columbia for a bus to WS due to traffic/weather/protests/whatever, I decided that next time I would  take the water taxi instead. I figured I’d at least get across the water and closer to my zip code. So, last night I did that only to discover the line across Alaskan Way. Well, the last time I waited in a line like that was after the Seahawks’ parade. After a two-hour wait in that line I learned that if there was a next time I would just walk around. So, last night that’s what I did. It was a lovely evening for a walk. 

Sorry, comment time is over.