A howling storm dumped up to 14 inches of snow in western Washington state, knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and stranding children overnight in more than three dozen schools.
The storm forced the cancellation of classes at most Seattle schools today, and Mayor Norm Rice urged employers to give workers at least the morning off.
“We are anticipating really treacherous conditions, really slick roads, and we want to do anything we can do to help keep people off the roads,” mayoral spokesman Mark Murray said.
Seattle gets lots of rain but little snow and has practically no snow removal equipment.
The storm bombarded the Pacific Northwest, northern Rocky Mountain states and the Dakotas with icy temperatures today, and overnight lows dropping well below zero set the stage for daytime highs expected to peak in the 20s.
A winter storm warning continued today from southwestern Washington to Portland, Ore.
Snowfall ranged from 8 inches downtown to 14 inches in some Seattle suburbs Tuesday evening. Winds gusting to 60 m.p.h. on Puget Sound bedeviled boat owners. Seattle-Tacoma Airport was closed for nearly two hours for snow removal.
There were numerous minor accidents, but no deaths or major injuries were reported. Many roads were closed or impassable because of snow drifts.
More than 100,000 customers were without power for at least part of the night, said Puget Sound Power & Light Co., the region’s largest utility. Other utilities in the area also reported widespread outages.
Thirty-seven schools in King County remained open all night to house roughly 2,600 children and faculty who couldn’t make it home, county emergency services officials said.
In Seattle, children were stranded overnight in more than a dozen schools but had heat, food and supervision, said schools Supt. William Kendrick.
“It’s a difficult situation. We’re doing the best we can with it,” he said. “It’s the first time in 34 years that I’ve seen anything like this.”
Residents of Vashon Island, about 30 miles south of Seattle in Puget Sound, remained isolated this morning because ferry service was knocked out. High wind and waves up to 14 feet halted ferry service late Tuesday, and knocked loose the island’s pedestrian ramp to the ferry, said Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Princess Jackson-Smith.
The National Weather Service issued high wind warnings for the western half of the state.