Difficult weather as US northwest hit by snow blast

2019-02-11 02:47:10 GMT2019-02-11 10:47:10(Beijing Time) Sina English

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

Some areas received more than 30 centimeters 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 on Friday afternoon as the storm arrived. More than 30 centimeters of snow was recorded by Saturday morning in some areas, including on the Olympic Peninsula, in the US’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,” Governor Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter.

In central Washington, blowing snow and drifts 90 to 120 centimeters deep forced the closure of US 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, and another storm was expected this 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 Maui on Friday, Hawaii News Now reported.

In California, more than 120 visitors and staff members were rescued on Thursday after being trapped by up to 2 meters 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 last 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 yesterday.

In Seattle, snowfall from Sunday and Monday lingered into the week as below-freezing temperatures gripped the area. A 59-year-old man died on 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.

(Agencies)

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