By Mandy Randolph
The sun rises over Eastsound Village on a snowy February morning.
Indian Island in the distance.
The “Village Green” all covered in white.
Sunrise over a snow covered Eastsound.
Visitors to Orcas are always asking me if it ever snows here. The answer is, YES! Orcas snow is FUN snow! It doesn’t usually stick around very long, melting long before it loses it’s beauty.
What I love most about a snowy Orcas Island day is how it brings our small community even closer together. We all share in the wonder, the excitement, the worry, and usually the FUN of a snow day. An undeniable shared experience does wonders to make you feel connected to those around you.
Maybe my opinion is skewed. You see, teaching is my other other career. I’m sure everyone remembers the excitement of the announcement that school is closed for a snow day! I am one of the lucky ones that never has to go to work on a snow day. Maybe that explains why I love them so much.
Mandy have a sled race with son Johnny and friends.
Mandy and family enjoying the snow.
The snow started early Friday morning. A snow day is fun, but a snow day at school with all of your friends is really fun! Shortly after lunch the snow started falling in flakes that were bigger than a child’s hand. We had to stop our lesson in Farm to Classroom and rush to the window to watch.
The weekend brought more snow on Sunday night. This time there was enough snow for the Orcas Island Public School to call an official snow day! With more snow falling on Monday night the students received a second snow day on Tuesday. You could hear the cheers across the island.
Orcas Island Public School buses parked for the day, covered in a blanket of snow.
The snow covered school yard and empty parking lot.
My youngest son Johnny enjoyed the snow with his friends on Monday. Toddlers and snow make for a fun combination. We have had mild winters with no real memorable snow since these kiddos were born, this was their first real Orcas snow day experience.
Johnny excited to catch a snowflake!
Frankie says the forecast calls for snow as far as she can see!
Ryan is gleeful after pelting the photographer with a snow ball!
The big kids also know how to enjoy the snow. On Tuesday afternoon the sun was shining bright and the steep hills at Buck Park were calling. My son Jordan and his girlfriend Bethany had fun sledding the hills above the play fields where they will begin playing softball and baseball in just about a month!
My son Jordan and his girlfriend sledding at Buck Park.
Enough about my family. You are probably reading this to learn more about living on Orcas Island. Remember how I said the snow brings the community together with the shared experience? I loved seeing the pictures my fellow islanders were posting on social media during the snow days. I’ll share some of my favorites here.
Tom Tillman posted these pictures from his farm in Doe Bay. I think this driver may have been caught in the storm of ’87.
Alexis Beckley captured this scene of the snow meeting the sea at West Beach on Monday morning. Her hashtag was #snowatsealevel #magical #pnw #luckytoliveonorcas.
Lynn Cunningham shared this beautiful view of Rosario Resort from her living room on Monday morning.
Cindy Ceteras captured this image from her dining room window in Eastsound. Cindy is enjoying her first winter on Orcas.
Mary Ann Sircely uploaded this beautiful evening snow picture along with this hashtag #itneversnowsonorcasisland.
The snow gives us clues as to what the local wildlife is up too. These bird prints were left outside my sliding glass door. It was fun to follow them and imagine the path of the little birdie that left them.
Deborah Jones posted this picture of the Raccoon tracks with this comment. “Raccoons circling the henhouse busted by the snow.”
Tuesday morning brought this beautiful sunrise on the East side of the island. Teacher Anne Ford McGrath shared this picture along with every teacher’s favorite winter morning announcement, “Snow Day, No School!”
Islander Camille Fleming was commuting off the island for work on Tuesday. Thankfully the Washington State Ferries still run on snow days. Her husband posted this comment, “Second snow day in a row. School cancelled. Flights cancelled. Roads are questionable. Glad the ocean isn’t frozen.”
Southern transplant Liz Guerry posted this picture Tuesday morning with this comment, “Sun bathing in the PNW!
Tuesday afternoon, islander and fellow teacher Nancy Walstrom captured this stunning snow scene from her deck at Buoy Bay. That is Mount Baker in the distance.
Vicki Bartram, my mother, posted this interesting shot of the sun rising in Olga, causing the trees to cast shadows over the snow covered yard.
My partner in real estate, Beth Holmes, shared this photo of the sun setting on the west side of Orcas Tuesday night. These chairs demonstrate nicely the optimism of most islanders, winter is short so why put away the outdoor furniture!
So there is the answer to the frequently asked question. Yes, Orcas Island gets snow and it is a WONDERFUL experience to have!
Mandy is an Associate Broker at T Williams Realty. She enjoys living with her family and friends on Orcas Island, Washington.