Trucks from the Bowlin Group, an energy company from Kentucky, idle in the parking lot of Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. The church served as a staging area for the vehicles. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Snowstorm buries Pacific Northwest, with more on the way

Hundreds of flights were cancelled in Seattle and Portland, and heavy snow drifts closed major highways in eastern Washington

Residents of the Pacific Northwest took to neighbourhood hills with skis, sleds or even just laundry baskets Saturday to celebrate an unusual dump of snow in a region more accustomed to winter rain.

Some areas received more than a foot of snow, and meteorologists say more is on the way early next week. Hundreds of flights were cancelled in Seattle and Portland, and heavy snow drifts closed major highways in eastern Washington. Around 50,000 people lost power.

Residents cleared out grocery store shelves and left work early Friday afternoon as the storm arrived. More than a foot of snow (30.5 cm) was recorded by Saturday morning in some areas, including on the Olympic Peninsula, in the nation’s latest bout of winter weather.

In Tacoma, hundreds of people turned out for a snowball fight in a park after someone who lives nearby suggested it on Facebook. They took cover behind picnic tables and used sleds as shields.

“This is a perfect morning to bundle up and play in the snow, but stay off the roads if possible,” Gov. Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter.

In central Washington, blowing snow and drifts 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 metres) deep forced the closure of U.S. 2 and Interstate 90. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office warned that snow drifts were blocking many roads. Airports in eastern Washington closed, and numerous car crashes were reported.

“Snow conditions are worsening minute to minute, so don’t expect travel conditions to improve,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

READ MORE: 10,000 BC Hydro customers without power as strong winds hit south coast

READ MORE: Much of B.C. seeing snow, -40 C wind chills

The National Weather Service said additional snow could fall Saturday, and another storm was expected early next week.

About 180 people spent the night at an emergency shelter set up at Seattle Center, with officials going out again on Saturday to get other homeless residents to safety. Inslee declared a state of emergency over the storm. The state transportation department said crews had to clear several trees that had fallen across roads in the Tacoma area.

In Portland, a tanker truck slid into a sport-utility vehicle on an interchange between Interstates 5 and 84 on Saturday, blocking the ramp for hours.

Other parts of the country were also wrestling with difficult weather. Residents of Hawaii were bracing for coastal flooding amid extreme surf predictions. A California man died in rough waters off of Maui on Friday, Hawaii News Now reported.

In California, more than 120 visitors and staff members were rescued Thursday after being trapped by up to 7 feet (2 metres) of snow in a Sierra Nevada resort for five days.

Another winter storm was on the way to the region.

In Yosemite National Park, as many as 50 housing structures near Half Dome Village were damaged by trees toppled during a snowstorm earlier this week, displacing more than 160 employees who provide food, lodging and other services for visitors.

Elsewhere, more than 148,000 customers lost power in Michigan following days of freezing rain. The Consumers Energy utility said power would be restored by late Sunday.

In Washington, about 50,000 people lost power. In Seattle, snowfall from Sunday and Monday lingered into the week as below-freezing temperatures gripped the area. A 59-year-old man died Thursday from exposure at a Seattle light rail station.

Residents in Portland and Seattle who are more accustomed to rain than snow waited in long lines to buy shovels and de-icer.

Autumn Sang was at a mobbed grocery store in Tualatin, Oregon, on Friday stocking up for the coming storm for herself and her neighbour, who is disabled and doesn’t have a car.

Sang said she had never seen the store so crowded. She grew up in southern Oregon, where snow is more common, and wasn’t fazed by the forecast.

“I love it. I’m excited about it,” she said of the snow. “I think that Portlanders, most of them are city people and they come from a lot of different places, so they’re not so used to it. It’s like, ‘Use your brain! If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out.’ “

___

Associated Press journalists Lisa Baumann in Seattle, Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles and Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Oregon, contributed to this report.

Gene Johnson, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

2018 annual report: Crime increased in almost every statistical category in Lake Country

Report states there were 617 offences in 2018; almost 100 more than 2017

Trans event at Pride gives marginalized youth a community, says director

The Trans Youth March and Social participants rallied on Thursday, June 20.

Chance of showers and thunderstorm for Okanagan-Shuswap-Similkameen

Mostly cloudy day for the Okanagan-Shuswap and Similkameen regions

Lake Country brain injury rehab community celebrates 10 years

CONNECT recognized staff and residents at an anniversary celebration June 21

Kootnekoff: WCB review wants your comments

Filed a Workers’ Compensation Board claim within the past 15 years?

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Crash near Okanagan elementary school investigated

RCMP officer watches driver hit concrete barrier and then fence at school

Crews fight wildfire along Sea-to-Sky Highway

A cause has not been determined, although a downed power line is suspected

Two mudslides close Seymour Arm road in North Shuswap, no one injured

Slides hit Seymour Arm Main Forest Service Road halfway between St. Ives and Seymour Arm

“Our community has had its heart broken”: South Okanagan celebrates life of David Kampe

Community and families members who knew Kampe give tearful addresses

Lower lake levels could create bumper crop of invasive milfoil

The CSRD board received an update on efforts to suppress the invasive aquatic plant

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Vernon and Sicamous cannabis stores get provincial nod

Spiritleaf in Vernon will be the Okanagan’s first cannabis store.

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Most Read