Storms cut power in Washington state mountain towns for days

  • Snow covers the land by Steven's Pizza in Skykomish, Wash., along Highway 2, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Skykomish, Wash. Volunteers brought food and supplies here for local Skykomish residents stranded without power or access to food. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP)

    Snow covers the land by Steven's Pizza in Skykomish, Wash., along Highway 2, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Skykomish, Wash. Volunteers brought food and supplies here for local Skykomish residents stranded without power or access to food. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP) Associated Press

  • Snow covers the roof of Steven's Pizza in Skykomish, Wash., along Highway 2, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Skykomish, Wash. Volunteers brought food and supplies here for local Skykomish residents stranded without power or access to food. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP)

    Snow covers the roof of Steven's Pizza in Skykomish, Wash., along Highway 2, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Skykomish, Wash. Volunteers brought food and supplies here for local Skykomish residents stranded without power or access to food. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP) Associated Press

  • People living in the Skykomish, Wash., area along Highway 2, including Katy Musser and Jeremiah Jones, stock up on donated supplies at Steven's Pizza brought to them by volunteers, Wednesday. Jan. 15, 2020. The groceries, water, and fuel came from the Gold Bar, Wash., area where much of the food was purchased at the Gold Bar Family Grocer. The residents near there have been without power for seven days. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP)

    People living in the Skykomish, Wash., area along Highway 2, including Katy Musser and Jeremiah Jones, stock up on donated supplies at Steven's Pizza brought to them by volunteers, Wednesday. Jan. 15, 2020. The groceries, water, and fuel came from the Gold Bar, Wash., area where much of the food was purchased at the Gold Bar Family Grocer. The residents near there have been without power for seven days. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP) Associated Press

  • Snow covers a bridge that crosses the South Fork of the Skykomish River into the town of Skykomish, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Power to the area has been out for a week. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP)

    Snow covers a bridge that crosses the South Fork of the Skykomish River into the town of Skykomish, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Power to the area has been out for a week. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP) Associated Press

  • Icicles form along Highway 2 near Skykomish, Wash., on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Another winter storm brought more snow to Western Washington through Wednesday morning, dropping more than a foot of snow on parts of the Olympic Peninsula. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP)

    Icicles form along Highway 2 near Skykomish, Wash., on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Another winter storm brought more snow to Western Washington through Wednesday morning, dropping more than a foot of snow on parts of the Olympic Peninsula. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times via AP) Associated Press

  • CORRECTS TO OAK STREET, NOT LAUREL - People navigate the snow-covered Oak Street zig-zag ramp that scales the bluff over downtown Port Angeles, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, after heavy snow blanketed the city overnight. Another winter storm brought more snow to Western Washington through Wednesday morning, dropping more than a foot of snow on parts of the Olympic Peninsula. (Keith Thorpe/The Peninsula Daily News via AP)

    CORRECTS TO OAK STREET, NOT LAUREL - People navigate the snow-covered Oak Street zig-zag ramp that scales the bluff over downtown Port Angeles, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, after heavy snow blanketed the city overnight. Another winter storm brought more snow to Western Washington through Wednesday morning, dropping more than a foot of snow on parts of the Olympic Peninsula. (Keith Thorpe/The Peninsula Daily News via AP) Associated Press

  • A man walks through fresh snow in downtown Everett, Wash, that was hit with heavy snow briefly on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Another winter storm brought more snow to Western Washington through Wednesday morning, dropping more than a foot of snow on parts of the Olympic Peninsula. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald via AP)

    A man walks through fresh snow in downtown Everett, Wash, that was hit with heavy snow briefly on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Another winter storm brought more snow to Western Washington through Wednesday morning, dropping more than a foot of snow on parts of the Olympic Peninsula. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Posted1/17/2020 7:00 AM

SKYKOMISH, Wash. -- Rural mountain communities outside Seattle that have been without power for days and cut off from the outside world by a series of winter storms saw some relief as convoys brought in food and other supplies.

The storms have dumped several feet of unusual snow on parts of western Washington state. As they moved south Thursday, heavy rain and strong winds battered parts of Northern California, while the Lake Tahoe area braced for heavy snow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Crews in Washington state cleared snow, power lines and trees that had fallen across a highway leading to small towns including Skykomish and Baring, allowing some residents who had been without power for nearly a week to leave and for supplies to be brought in Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, U.S. Highway 2 fully reopened to all travelers.

Authorities had warned it could be several more days before power is fully restored for hundreds of people in an area along that highway about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of Seattle in the Cascade Range.

'œRealistically, I'm not expecting power here for another three or four days,' Skykomish Mayor Henry Sladek told The Seattle Times.

The problem that crews are facing is that as soon as one downed power line is repaired, 'œanother tree comes down and takes it out again because of the heavy snow,' Puget Sound Energy spokesman Andrew Padula said. Late Thursday afternoon, however, Puget Sound Energy officials were estimating that power could be restored as early as Friday afternoon.

The Washington State Patrol said it was working with sheriff's deputies to check on people in those communities and that the Masonic Temple in Skykomish was providing hot food, supplies and water to residents.

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Garry Vire of nearby Gold Bar, Washington, helped organize a convoy of SUVs and four-wheel drive vehicles that dropped off supplies to people in need.

'œThese are my neighbors, my family. When the call went out for help, that's what we did,' Vire told the Times.

Sarah Sadler headed to Vire's town when the highway reopened Wednesday for 'œbread, peanut butter, water. And restocking on gas, primarily for the generator and snowmobiles.'

With power out in the tiny town of Index, she told the Times that she had been taking food out of her refrigerator and putting it in the snow.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state Emergency Management Division brought food, water and fuel to the area and also were offering voluntary evacuations.

'œWe will work to provide whatever these communities need,' he tweeted.

Farther south, snow also fell heavily on Snoqualmie Pass, a mountain pass that carries Interstate 90 through the Cascade Range. The state Department of Transportation said 80 inches (203 centimeters) of snow has fallen since last week, forcing several closures of Interstate 90, a major east-west freeway in the U.S.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Seattle metro area didn't see much new snow, but on the Olympic Peninsula northwest of the city, people were digging out after getting hit with several feet of snow. Reports from the coastal city of Port Angeles were up to 20 inches (50 centimeters). North of Seattle, Mount Vernon got 8 inches (20 centimeters), while Anacortes recorded 12 inches (30 centimeters).

After several days of freezing temperatures, warmer weather will arrive by Saturday, melting snow but increasing the threat of flooding, forecasters said.

Heavy, wet snow caused about 18,000 customers on the Oregon-California border to lose power Thursday, according to Pacific Power. In Northern California, residents were advised to stay off roads and check in on vulnerable family and neighbors. Highways and streets in San Francisco, Oakland and Marin County were flooded.

Just east of the California-Nevada line, schools closed on the north shore of Lake Tahoe as the area faced a winter storm warning until late Thursday.

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