Strong Winter Storm Batters the Northwest, Stranding Drivers

Strong winds and whiteout conditions contributed to a 20-car pileup and other crashes in western Nevada on Sunday after a winter storm slammed into the Northwest over the holiday weekend.

At least six people were injured, including one driver who crashed into the back of a Nevada highway patrol vehicle that had its emergency lights on while a trooper was helping a stranded driver. The trooper was unhurt.

The crashes led officials to shut down Interstate 580 in Washoe Valley, Nev., in both directions. “If you do not need to be out and about today,” the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office told drivers, “please stay home.”

Officials in Washoe County said on Saturday that dozens of vehicles were parked on one highway as the storm created poor driving conditions with low visibility.

Another eight to 10 hours of snow showers were expected near Portland, Ore., the National Weather Service office there said on Sunday. About six inches of snow were recorded in Forest Grove, Ore., about 27 miles west of Portland.

Gerald Macke, a meteorological technician with the Weather Service office in Portland, said the area just north of Salem got about four to seven inches of snow. But snowfall in the Portland metro area was uneven. Some areas got trace amounts, while others got up to six inches, he said.

Heavy snow was expected in the western mountain ranges, including the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the Cascades, according to the Weather Prediction Center of the National Weather Service.

The Sierra Nevada area, which already received “several feet of snow” recently, is expected to get up to five feet of snow through Tuesday, the agency said. It added that “measurable and disruptive snowfall accumulations are also on tap again in the Pacific Northwest,” including the Portland and Seattle metro areas.

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said on Sunday that anti-icing and snow removal efforts there had led to delays of about an hour.

The Pacific Northwest was also bracing for an unusual cold snap.

The Weather Service said temperatures in Washington and Oregon could drop to single digits this week. The agency advised that the most vulnerable populations, including homeless people and those without access to heating, would be especially at risk.

Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, on Thursday declared a state of emergency to last through Jan. 3 because of the forecast.

“Our state has experienced a number of climate-related emergencies this year, and with another coming, I urge all Oregonians to make a plan with your family now and be prepared,” she said.

The Emergency Management Division of the Washington State Military Department advised people to prepare for the storms by limiting their time outdoors, staying off the roads and dressing warmly.

The cold weather in the northwest contrasted with conditions in much of the United States, where record-breaking high temperatures were recorded at the end of the week.

In Wichita Falls, Texas, near the state’s border with Oklahoma, the temperature on Friday reached 91 degrees, breaking the previous December record of 88 degrees set in 1954.

The Tycoon Herald