Widespread snowstorm wallops Pacific Northwest

Sledders, skiers, snowboarders and pedestrians take over a snow-covered street in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Warmer weather may soon bring a threat of flooding in the region.

Associated Press

Sledders, skiers, snowboarders and pedestrians take over a snow-covered street in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Warmer weather may soon bring a threat of flooding in the region.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A winter storm that packed winds of 100 mph and dumped more than a foot of snow in the Pacific Northwest could soon give way to another threat: warmer weather and the potential for flooding.

On Wednesday, at least, some residents in Washington state's capital tried to find a way to enjoy the abundance of snow in a region not used to huge snowfalls.

"I love it," said teenager Emily Hansen, who had the day off from high school and spent the morning with her mother taking photos of the growing piles of snow outside the Capitol.

From Olympia to the Oregon coast, the storm closed schools, caused dozens of flight cancellations and clogged roads with snow and hundreds of accidents.

Olympia had nearly a foot of new snow on the ground by late morning.

Nearly 11 inches was measured at the airport Wednesday. The record is 14.2 inches on Jan. 24, 1972.

Lewis County, south of Olympia, had the highest snowfall amounts, ranging from 12 to 17 inches.

"It's unusual to get this much snow for western Washington, especially in this amount," said Dennis D'Amico, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Today's forecast was for a mix of snow and rain, and the National Weather Service warned that urban and small stream flooding was possible Friday, when another storm was expected to hit the state.

Washington residents had plenty of warning as snow showers started over the weekend.

With the heavy snow in sight, Seattle and other school districts canceled classes in advance. Alaska Airlines announced late Tuesday that it had canceled 38 flights into and out of Seattle and Portland, Ore.

Many courts and government offices and libraries closed. Garbage collection was postponed.

In Oregon, high winds hammered parts of the coast and caused power outages to tens of thousands of customers, with reports of gusts of 110 mph and more. There were no immediate reports of serious damage.

Widespread snowstorm wallops Pacific Northwest 01/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 10:35pm]

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