USA First Look

Rare snowfall blankets Seattle, closing schools and cutting power (+video)

More than 100,000 utility customers are without electricity after a snowstorm blanketed Seattle and western Washington on Monday, prompting widespread school closures and flight cancellations.

A person walks through West Seattle, Wash., on Monday. Inches of snow stacked up around the area, and more is expected to continue throughout Monday.
Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times/AP | Caption

A rare snowstorm brought about four inches of snow to the Seattle area Monday, prompting road and school closures as well as flight cancellations and power outages as the city worked to combat its heaviest snowstorm in five years.

The storm began Sunday night and continued through the next day, leaving some 100,000 people without power across the Puget Sound region. Others found themselves snowed in, with icy conditions closing roads or delaying trains and flights.

By Tuesday morning, much of the winter storm had subsided. The region is predicted to see mostly dry conditions, with temperatures expected to reach a high of 40 degrees.

But evidence of the unusual snowstorm remains. Early Monday morning, more than 80 flights entering or departing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had been canceled after the airport saw between three and five inches of snow. The storm affected travel plans for more than 10,000 passengers.

“The conditions are so severe at Sea-Tac that it’s taking our crews 30 to 40 minutes to deice a single plane,” Wayne Newton, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of operations for Seattle, said in a statement early Monday afternoon. “If you don’t have to travel today, it’s a good day to stay home.”

Several Seattle schools saw delayed openings Tuesday morning as crews continued to work to clear roads.

Other Puget Sound regions outside of the Seattle metro area saw more than a foot of snow, with the Cascade Mountains receiving a 30-inch blanketing. The bulk of power outages occurred in the counties surrounding the city, where heavy snowfall damaged power lines.

The storm follows several that have hit Portland, Ore., in recent weeks. Forecasters had expected another to strike the region, but high temperatures turned the snow to rain. Montana saw heavy snowfall as well, with areas along the edge of Glacier National Park bearing the brunt of the storm there.

While the snowfall created hassles for some, the rare snowstorm was a welcome surprise to others in Seattle. Children and parents took advantage of the snow day, sledding in Seattle's hilly Queen Anne neighborhood.

"It's awesome, especially because I had a life-skill test today and now it's delayed until Thursday," 12-year-old Allette Franklin told the Associated Press.

Her friend Josie Kinney, age 11, agreed. "It's almost a miniature Christmas," she said.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.