Wash­ing­ton state mired in snow

Rar­ity snarls travel, in­spires hun­dreds-strong snow­ball fight

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - GENE JOHN­SON In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Lisa Bau­mann, Amanda Lee My­ers and Gil­lian Flac­cus of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

SEAT­TLE — A win­ter storm that blan­keted Wash­ing­ton state with snow and forced the can­cel­la­tions of more than 200 flights moved south into Ore­gon as me­te­o­rol­o­gists warned Satur­day that more win­ter weather was on the way.

In Seat­tle, where heavy snow­fall is a rar­ity, res­i­dents cleared out gro­cery store shelves and left work early Fri­day af­ter­noon as the storm ar­rived. On Satur­day, many got out ski gear and sleds, and took to neigh­bor­hood hills or even streets that were too steep for cars to nav­i­gate.

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.

More than a foot of snow was recorded in some ar­eas, in­clud­ing on the Olympic Penin­sula, in the na­tion’s lat­est bout of win­ter weather. In cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, blow­ing snow and drifts 3-4 feet deep forced the clo­sure of U.S. 2 and In­ter­state 90. The Grant County sher­iff’s of­fice warned that snow­drifts were block­ing many roads.

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

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said an­other storm is ex­pected early this week.

About 180 peo­ple spent the night at an emer­gency shel­ter set up at Seat­tle Cen­ter, with of­fi­cials go­ing out again Satur­day to get other home­less res­i­dents to safety. Inslee de­clared a state of emer­gency over the storm, and slid­ing cars caused crashes on high­ways, though traf­fic was light. 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 diffi- cult 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 of snow in a Sierra Nevada re­sort for five days.

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

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

In Wash­ing­ton, about 50,000 peo­ple lost power. In Seat­tle, snow­fall from last 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 crowded gro­cery store in Tualatin, Ore., on Fri­day stock­ing up for the com­ing storm for her­self and her neigh­bor, 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.’”

AP/TED S. WAR­REN

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