SEATTLE – Hundreds of people without power for as long as a week are slowly seeing their lights come back on after storms that brought feet of heavy snow to Western Washington, while thousands in Southern Oregon lost power in a Thursday snowstorm.
Puget Sound Energy estimates that power to hundreds in the Washington mountain towns of Gold Bar and Skykomish could finally be restored Friday. Schools in the area remained closed. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and others sent supplies to the area by convoy while portions of U.S. Highway 2 remained shut down due to falling trees and power lines.
In northwestern Washington, Bellingham schools remained closed Friday because of snow, ice and below freezing temperatures.
In southern Oregon, over 18,000 customers lost electricity in heavy snow Thursday evening, according to Pacific Power. As of Friday afternoon, more than 9,200 customers remained in the dark mostly in the Grants Pass area.
Winter storms are still in the forecast for parts of the Northwest. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the central Columbia River Gorge from Friday afternoon into Saturday for snow and freezing rain.
A winter storm warning went into effect for the south Washington Cascades Friday afternoon with a foot or more of snow expected, according to the National Weather Service. A gale warning for the Washington coast was also issued.
In southeastern Idaho a winter weather advisory was in effect through Friday night for blowing and drifting snow. The weather and multiple crashes caused the Idaho Transportation Department to temporarily close several roads Friday including a 65-mile stretch of Interstate 84 from the Utah border to the junction of Interstate 86.
FAA grounds Chicago O’Hare flights
CHICAGO – The Federal Aviation Administration halted all flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Friday night due to a sprawling winter storm hitting large sections of the Midwest that led to the closure of schools, universities and government offices.
The FAA said on its website that the stop would last through 9 p.m. CST. Hundreds of flights already were canceled Friday at the airport, one of the busiest in the nation.
Earlier Friday, a plane slid off an icy taxiway at Kansas City International Airport. The Delta Air Lines flight was taxiing to be de-iced before flying to Detroit when the nosegear slipped off the taxiway, said Delta spokeswoman Martha Witt. There were no reports of injuries aboard the Airbus A319, which was carrying 123 passengers and a crew of six. Witt said the airline was trying to put passengers from Delta flight 1114 on other planes.
The airport was closed and numerous flights were canceled in the morning but flights resumed about noon. Most Friday flights from Nashville, Tennessee, were canceled, likely disrupting travel plans for fans of the Tennessee Titans flying into Kansas City for Sunday’s AFC championship game with the Chiefs, KCTV reported.
At 8:15 p.m., the Chicago Department of Aviation was reporting 670 flights had been canceled at O’Hare, with 169 flights canceled at Midway, the city’s other international airport. A winter weather advisory was issued for the Chicago area through early Saturday , with 2 to 5 inches of snow expected.
“If there is travel you don’t need to make, consider postponing it,” said meteorologist Ricky Castro.
Lambert lnternational Airport in St. Louis reported more than 130 flights canceled as of noon Friday and American Airlines suspended all flights to Missouri’s Columbia Regional Airport until noon Saturday.
The slippery conditions come after the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories, saying the storm will create hazardous travel conditions from the Plains into the Northeast through the weekend. Snow is forecast over much of the Great Lakes, with a blizzard warning for parts of the Upper Midwest.
The winter weather advisory extended south into western Oklahoma and northern Arkansas, where freezing rain was expected Friday.
In South Dakota and Minnesota, dozens of schools canceled classes Friday ahead of snowfall expected during the day.
In Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly closed state offices in the Topeka area, urging people in a news release to “stay safe and warm, exercise caution and allow road crews to do their job.“
A storm that hit during the morning commute Friday coated the roads of Salt Lake City with up to 5 inches of snow. Advance warning allowed a delayed start for state government and some schools, which kept the number of crashes to a relatively low 75, police said.
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