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

Slo-pitch is coming back to Eckville

This year’s league will feature eight local teams to play on Tuesday nights

Eckville Atom 1 Eagles on to zone finals

The Eagles defeated Millet 9-5 to push them through to the final round of provincial playdowns

WATCH: Ice racing on Sylvan Lake draws a crowd

The Alberta Oval Ice Racing championship series was held in Sylvan Lake over the Family Day weekend

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Alberta’s Pascale Paradis earns bronze in 7.5 km Female Biathlon

Canada Games action carries through to March 2nd

Alberta investing $3.7B to move oil by rail, leasing cars

4,400 leased railway cars will move up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day by 2020

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Alberta earns three medals in Long Track Speed Skating

Alberta now has 16 medals (6-5-5) and currently sits in second place of the medal standings

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Team Alberta takes exciting victory in wheelchair basketball, remains undefeated

After three games in the tournament, Alberta is sitting in first place of its pool

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Two have resigned already: Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary

Most Read