Snow blows in California and freezes the Pacific Northwest
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SEATTLE (AP) – Extreme weather conditions in the United States have brought freezing temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, heavy snowfall to the mountains of northern California and Nevada, and unusual heat for Texas and the South-East.
Emergency warming shelters were opened across Oregon and western Washington as temperatures plummeted in teens and forecasters said an arctic blast would last for several days. Sunday’s snow showers blew across the Pacific Northwest from the Gulf of Alaska, dumping up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) in the Seattle area.
The National Weather Service said Seattle’s minimum temperature on Sunday was 20 degrees F (-6.7 C), surpassing a record set in 1948. Bellingham was 9 degrees F (-12.8 C), three degrees of more than the previous record set in 1971.
Oregon state officials have declared a state of emergency. In Multnomah County – home to Portland – about a half-dozen weather shelters were open. Seattle city officials also opened at least six weather shelters from Saturday to at least Wednesday.
In West Seattle, Keith Hughes of the American Legion Hall Post 160, said his warm-up center could accommodate a dozen people – its capacity being limited by the lack of volunteer staff.
“Volunteers, it’s a problem for myself as well as for everyone in town, it’s really hard to continue with COVID,” he said.
Winter conditions resulted in the cancellation of flights to Seattle, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, blowing snow in the mountains of northern California and Nevada has closed key highways, with forecasters warning that travel in the Sierra Nevada could be difficult for several days.
At Donner Pass in the Sierra, officials from the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab Monday said recent snowfall broke December’s snowiest record of 179 inches (4.6 meters), set in 1970. The record now stands at 193.7 inches (4.9 meters) because more snow is expected.
Truckee’s Northstar California Resort closed its mountain operations on Monday in blizzard conditions. The ski resort has received more than 1.8 meters of snow in the past 48 hours, according to the resort’s Facebook post.
Search and rescue teams are looking for a missing skier who was last seen in a lift at the ski resort on Saturday morning, KCRA reported.
The snowpack in the Sierra was at dangerously low levels after recent weeks of dry weather, but the state’s water resources department reported on Monday that the snowpack was between 145% and 161% of normal on the whole chain with more snow expected.
In Nevada, freezing air and blinding snow blew across the upstate on Monday, affecting travel and business, shutting down Sierra Nevada road passes, delaying flights to the airport and closing state offices.
Interstate 80 remained closed due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall between the Nevada state border and Placer County, California. An avalanche has blocked a national highway that connects Tahoe City with some ski resorts in Olympic Valley, and authorities have urged motorists to avoid non-essential trips.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered non-essential state officials other than public safety and corrections personnel to stay at home due to the storm.
Weather and travel advisories have spread to northeastern Nevada and Elko due to the possibility of blowing snow and blowing snow.
Storms that have hit California and Nevada in recent days have also brought rain and snow to Arizona. A record-breaking inch of rain in one day was reported at Phoenix Airport on Friday when 11 inches (28 centimeters) of snow fell on the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort just outside Flagstaff. Another 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow was recorded in the 24 hours ending Monday morning.
More storms are expected to hit the desert state from Monday afternoon and continue throughout the week.
Temperatures were unusually warm in parts of the southern plains, including Arkansas, where several cities broke Christmas Day records for daily high temperatures.
But forecasters warned severe storms were possible mid-week when a storm system moves into the deep south, with Alabama and Mississippi most exposed to bad weather, according to Norman’s Storm Prediction Center, Oklahoma.
Heavy snowfall will begin Monday night in California’s Sierra Nevada and the area is expected to have a break from the cold snap by Thursday, said Emily Heller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Temperatures in western Washington and Oregon are not expected to exceed freezing until at least Thursday, and possibly not until the weekend, forecasters said.
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