With normally mild temperatures in Seattle dropping well below freezing, Kaety West hiked a short distance in the snow from the tent where she usually stays to find refuge in a small warm-up center in an American Legion hall.
âI’m not even ready to stay there yet. It’s so difficult, âshe said of her tent on Monday.
Severe weather sweeping through parts of the United States brought freezing temperatures to the Pacific Northwest and heavy snowfall to the mountains of northern California and Nevada.
In western Washington and Oregon, officials and private groups have opened emergency spaces for people to find refuge, as forecasters have said the extreme cold from an arctic explosion could last until at week-end.
Snow showers swept across the Pacific Northwest from the Gulf of Alaska on Sunday, dumping up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) in the Seattle area and booming traffic in the greater Seattle and Portland areas. .
The National Weather Service said Seattle’s Sunday low was 20 degrees F (-6.7 C), surpassing a record set in 1948. Bellingham, Wash., Was 9 degrees F (-12.8 C) , 3 degrees lower 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 have also opened at least six weather shelters and the mayor has declared a state of emergency.
Utilities reported about 5,000 customers without power Monday in western Washington and Oregon.
Further south, blowing snow in the mountains of northern California and Nevada closed key highways, forecasters warning that travel in the Sierra Nevada could be difficult for several days.
At Donner Pass in the Sierra, officials at the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, said on Monday that recent snowfall broke December’s snowiest record of 179 inches (4.6 meters ), set in 1970. The record is now 193.7 inches (4.9 meters) as 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.
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.
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.
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.
More storms were expected to hit the desert state from Monday afternoon and continue throughout the week and snow was expected again in the greater Portland area until Tuesday morning.
With temperatures in western Washington and Oregon expected to stay below freezing for several days, officials planned to keep emergency shelters longer than expected.
Seattle officials have said the city’s shelters will remain open throughout the New Year. Nearly 200 people spent the night in shelters on Sunday, officials said, and they expected the number to rise.
At the refuge where West went to warm up, American Legion Hall Post 160, there was room for a dozen people.
Keith Hughes of the American Legion said capacity is limited by the lack of volunteer staff.
âVolunteers, this is a problem for me as well as for everyone in town, it is really difficult to continue with COVID,â he said, adding that it was planned to keep the space open for a while. about 10 days.
The last time the Legion post opened long-term as a warm-up center was three days, Hughes said.
“The longer it lasts, the harder it’s going to be for people who have no place to go,” said Hughes. “We will just continue to help people as much as we can help them.”