Snow falls in California and freezes in the Pacific Northwest


Snow falls in California and freezes in the Pacific Northwest

Severe weather sweeping parts of the United States has brought frigid temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, heavy snows to mountains in Northern California and Nevada, and unusual warmth to Texas and the Southeast.

And emergency warming shelters opened across Oregon and western Washington as temperatures dip below their teens, and forecasters have said an arctic eruption will continue for several days. Snow showers Sunday in the Pacific Northwest feel from the Gulf of Alaska, dumping as much as 6 inches (15 cm) across the Seattle area.

The National Weather Service said the low in Seattle on Sunday was 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.7 degrees Celsius), breaking a mark set in 1948. Bellingham's temperature was 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-12.8 degrees Celsius), three degrees colder. From the previous record set in 1971.

State officials in Oregon have declared a state of emergency. In Multnomah County -- home to Portland -- about six weather shelters have opened. Seattle leaders also opened at least six severe weather shelters from Saturday through Wednesday.

In western Seattle, Keith Hughes of American Legion Hall Post 160 said his heating center could hold about a dozen people — and its capacity has limited a shortage of volunteer staff.

"Volunteers, that's a problem for me and everyone else in town; it's tough to deal with COVID," he said.

Winter weather has led to flights in Seattle, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, snowfall in the mountains of Northern California and Nevada closed major highways, with meteorologists warning that travel to Nevada could be difficult for several days.

At Donner Pass in the Sierra, officials from the University of California, Central Sierra Snow Laboratory in Berkeley said Monday that recent snowfall broke the December snow record of 179 inches (4.6 meters), set in 1970. The form is now 193.7 inches (4.9 inches), where more snow is expected.

Northstar California resort in Truckee closed its mountain operations Monday amid blizzard conditions. According to a post by the resort on Facebook, the ski resort has received more than 6 feet of snow in the past 48 hours.

Snow mass in the Sierra was at dangerously low levels after recent weeks of dry weather. Still, the state's Water Resources Department reported Monday that snow mass was between 145% and 161%, expected more snow.

In Nevada, freezing air and blinding snow fell across the northern part of the state on Monday, affecting travel and business, closing highway lanes in the Sierra Nevada, delaying airport flights, and closing state offices.

There is heavy snow from the Nevada state line to Placer County, California. An avalanche has closed a state road connecting Tahoe to some Olympic Valley ski resorts, and authorities are urging motorists to avoid non-essential travel.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has ordered non-essential state workers other than public safety and corrections workers to stay home due to the storm.

Weather and travel warnings extended to Northeastern Nevada and Elko due to the possibility of snowfall and drift.

Storms that have hit California and Nevada in recent days have also brought rain and snow to Arizona. A record inch of rain was reported in one day at Phoenix Airport on Friday 

More storms are expected to hit the desert state starting Monday afternoon and continuing throughout the week.

Temperatures were hot in parts of the Southern Plains, including Arkansas, where several cities broke records on Christmas Day for daily high temperatures.

But meteorologists have warned of the potential for severe storms in the middle of the week when the storm system moves into the deep south, with Alabama and Mississippi at high risk of severe weather.

Heavy snow will begin to recede Monday evening in California's Sierra Nevada. The area is expected to get a respite from the cold snap by Thursday.

Forecasters said temperatures in western Washington and Oregon are not expected to rise above freezing until at least Thursday and possibly even into the weekend.

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