The Northwest was pummeled by its second major storm in less than a week Sunday as 2 feet of snow, heavy rain and high winds blocked major highways with avalanches, buckled roofs and closed the Space Needle.
Snow was piled by bone-chilling gusts as powerful as 90 mph in northwestern Washington. Heavy rain added to the misery, creating an icy glaze that led to flood warnings for parts of Oregon and Western Washington.
“Basically, we’re paralyzed,” said Neil Clement, director of emergency management in Washington’s Whatcom County. “Even the snowplows are getting stuck.”
Washington Gov. Mike Lowry declared a disaster in 12 West Side counties and mobilized the National Guard. Seattle’s 610-foot Space Needle was closed because heavy, wet snow and ice were falling in “something resembling missiles,” said spokeswoman Lynn Brackpool.
More than 124,000 homes and business remained without electricity Sunday night in Washington state as crews struggled to keep up with lines downed by ice and fallen branches. Outages also affected 27,000 customers around Portland.
One death was attributed to the storm: a 75-year-old man struck by a tree southeast of Issaquah, Wash. Rich Tokarzewski of the King County Emergency Operations Center said the man was killed about 3 p.m. when the snow-and-ice-laden tree fell on him. The man’s identity was not immediately available.
Six children in Auburn, south of Seattle, were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after a family cooked its dinner on a charcoal barbecue indoors when their power went out.
Travel ground to a halt throughout the region. Seven to 10 inches of snow fell on Seattle overnight on top of 6 to 12 inches on the ground. Transit officials canceled bus service when most of the vehicles were stuck in the snow or just frozen to the ground. Most taxicabs would carry only people with medical emergencies.
All three main routes across the Cascade mountains in Washington - Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, U.S. Highway 2 over Stevens Pass and U.S. Highway 12 over White Pass - were closed by multiple avalanches. Part of U.S. 12 also was blocked by a mudslide. Officials said the routes could be reopened today, when temperatures are expected to rise.
Heavy snow caused the roof of the new Entiat High School gym in the central Washington town to collapse Sunday.
Roofs also collapsed at Lake Chelan Building Supply in Manson and at a building used to store about 15 boats in Chelan. There were no reports of injuries.
Chelan County Sheriff Dan Breda authorized the use of snowmobiles on roads for emergency travel. A slide blocked South Shore Road along Lake Chelan. Breda also warned of avalanche danger along U.S. Highway 97 along the Columbia River.
In the Yakima County community of Outlook, a big barn collapsed, killing an undetermined number of chickens and setting others free. The Bridgeman Farms’ barn held 12,000 recently hatched chicks, the Sunnyside Fire Department said.
In Naches Heights, also in Yakima County, the abandoned 90-year-old Marcus Whitman School crumbled under the weight of the snow.
“It’s completely gone. It’s just like a bomb went off in it,” Fire Chief Chris O’Dell said.
Avalanches closed a 45-mile stretch of Interstate 84 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River gorge, and an avalanche just west of Cascade Locks, Ore., trapped a pickup truck. Both occupants escaped safely.
Service was curtailed drastically at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Several hundred passengers had to spend the night there because airline crews couldn’t reach the airport on snow- and ice-covered streets, said Anita Risdon, a Port of Seattle spokeswoman.
Most Amtrak passenger trains between Washington and Oregon and into Vancouver, British Columbia, were canceled. And the westbound train from Chicago was held up in Spokane until tracks could be cleared.
Interstate 5 was closed around Seattle when clogged drains caused water to rise as high as car doors.
High winds along the Oregon coast toppled dozens of trees, closing several highways.
Roofs collapsed at 17 of the 19 structures at the Port of Edmonds marina north of Seattle, sinking about 270 of the 400 boats moored inside. Three live-aboard boats were evacuated before they sank.
“It’s as if no boats were there,” said Tim Whitman, an assistant Edmonds fire chief.
He estimated the average boat at the marina cost $300,000.
xxxx CUT OFF The storm closed all major Cascades passes, delayed flights at Sea-Tac and blocked Amtrak.
THE DAMAGE Here are some key facts about the Washington state snowstorm: EMERGENCY COUNTIES. Gov. Mike Lowry asked the National Guard to help and declared an emergency in 12 counties: King, Snohomish, Island, Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan, Clallam, Cowlitz, Kitsap, Mason, Thurston and Pierce. WORST COUNTY. Whatcom. County Executive Pete Kremen said Sunday there wasn’t a road in the county that was passable. SNOW, THEN RAIN. Rain in Western Washington turned more than a foot of snow on the ground into a heavy mess. Driving was difficult, even for police. Water-laden snow caused roofs to collapse. DEATHS. One. A 75-year-old man struck by a snow-laden tree southeast of Issaquah. INJURIES. A Port Orchard woman suffered serious head injuries when a carport collapsed on her. In Auburn, six children were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after a family cooked dinner on a barbecue indoors when their power went out. HIGH WATER. The Weather Service issued a flood watch for all rivers in southwest Washington and the Olympic Peninsula. Forecasters also issued an advisory for possible stream and urban flooding. Standing water closed Interstate 5 in Seattle. HIGHWAYS. All major Cascades passes closed: Snoqualmie (Interstate 90), Stevens (U.S. 2) and White (U.S. 12). Other highways across state closed or partially blocked. PLANES, TRAINS, AUTOMOBILES. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was operating but crews and passengers had trouble reaching the airport and flights were canceled. Amtrak canceled some Seattle service. Public transit buses stopped running in King and Snohomish counties. POWER OUTAGES. Puget Sound Power & Light, which serves nine Western Washington counties, had 107,000 customers out of service Sunday. It was as low as 65,000 before the new storm hit. Utilities as far away as Los Angeles and Denver sent crews to help repair lines. COSTLIEST DAMAGE. Roof collapse at Edmonds marina sinks about 270 boats, estimated to cost about $300,000 each. The roof at the new Entiat High School gym also collapsed. NO NEEDLE. The 610-foot Space Needle was closed Sunday because of ice “coming down in something resembling missiles,” said spokeswoman Lynn Brackpool. Several chunks hit the roof of the lobby at the base of the landmark, causing leaks. QUOTE. “Even the snowplows are getting stuck. That’s how bad it is,” Neil Clement, director Whatcom County Department of Emergency Services. Associated Press
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