Snowstorm buries Pacific Northwest
SEATTLE — Residents of the Pacific Northwest took to neighborhood 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 canceled 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 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 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.
The National Weather Service said additional snow could fall Sunday, 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.
Several hundred people take part in a public snowball fight Saturday at Wright Park in Tacoma, Wash. Word of the friendly battle spread on social media Friday night and Saturday, as a winter storm that blanketed Washington state with snow moved south into Oregon and meteorologists warned that yet more winter weather was on the way.