Seattle Weather: Massive Snowstorm Strikes Northwest Pacific Region [PHOTOS]

 @julia_greenberg
on January 19 2012 12:23 PM
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    The Space Needle is seen as snow flurry clouds surrounded downtown Seattle on Jan. 17, 2012. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    Vehicles aboard the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry disembark during rush hour. Ferry traffic was significantly lighter due to the snow. A Pacific storm blanketed Seattle in more than 4 inches of snow on Wednesday, forcing school closures and airline flight cancellations and snarling traffic throughout a city more accustomed to rain than severe winter weather. REUTERS/Cliff DesPeaux
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    Seattle-area resident Jamshid Khajavi sees the heavy snowfall as an opportunity to ski cross-country from his home in Kirkland to Bellevue, Wash., 20 miles round trip. REUTERS/Cliff DesPeaux
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    Vehicles ignore a road closure on a hill in Kirkland, Wash. as the northeast was hit with a snowstorm. REUTERS/Cliff DesPeaux
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    A man rides a scooter to get around as snow blanketed Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. REUTERS/Robert Sorbo
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    Alaska Airlines passenger planes are de-iced at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 18, 2012, as snow blanketed most of western Wash. Seattle residents bracing for an epic storm on Wednesday may have only seen up to 6 inches of snowfall while towns in the southwest interior of Wash. were likely to be slammed with more than a foot of snow, forecasters said. Air travel was expected to be disrupted throughout the day, with Alaska Airlines cancelling 38 west coast flights into and out of Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Southwest and JetBlue airlines also urged passengers to check with carriers before traveling to the region. REUTERS/Robert Sorbo
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    A motorist gets help while stuck on a lane barrier in the early morning commute near Interstate 405 in Kirkland, Wash. on Jan. 18, 2012. Seattle area residents on Tuesday braced for an epic storm, expected to drop up to 10 inches of snow and nicknamed "Snowmageddon" for the havoc it was expected to wreak on the region. REUTERS/Cliff DesPeaux
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    Priya Naik runs through the snow after an overnight winter storm brought heavy snows to the Puget Sound region, around Greenlake in Seattle on Jan. 18, 2012. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
  • Seattle Snow Storm 2012
    I-5 Interstate Highway traffic crawls along the Southbound lane into downtown Seattle after an overnight winter storm brought heavy snows to the Puget Sound region on Jan. 18, 2012. While metropolitan Seattle received only a few inches, snowfall was heavy in the South Puget Sound and Olympic peninsula. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
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A highly anticipated snow storm hit Seattle and the surrounding area Wednesday, dumping over a foot of snow on the Northwest Pacific Region. Although the area saw less snow than expected, the unusual weather hit residents hard.

The Associated Press reports that tens of thousands of residents lost power and hundreds of cars slid off the icy roads. Major airlines cancelled their flights to and from the Seattle-Tacoma airport Wednesday. The expected snowstorm also prompted many schools to post delays and closures.

One child was killed in the storm, the AP reports, when a car with the child was swept from a parking lot into an Oregon creek.

The icy rain and heavy snow also created dangerous road conditions, especially for drivers unaccustomed to navigating in the snow. There were 95 accidents recorded near the Wash. capitol on Wednesday, State Trooper Guy Gill told USA Today.

For the first time in my career, I had to put chains on, he said. You stay in the path laid down on the freeway.

Seattle and the surrounding Puget Sound cities are not accustomed to heavy snowfall, with the city averaging 5.9 inches annually. The city is not equipped with the necessary snowplows and road salts that are commonplace in Chicago and New York.  Residents were advised to be prepared with extra flashlights, food, water and blankets in case of an emergency.

Following the storm, snow may give way to rain later in the week, leading to more typical weather for the winter months in the region.

However, there are fears that the slightly warmer weather may turn the remaining snow into ice, which could create dangerous road conditions. Seattle officials urge residents to clear clogged storm drains to allow the melted snow to leave the city and avoid severe flooding.

The AP reports that nearly a foot of snow hit Olympia, Wash. with 11 inches was measured at the Sea-Tac Airport. Lewis County had the highest amount of accumulated snow in the region, ranging from 12 to 17 inches.  Oregon was not hit with as much snow as Washington, but the state received rain and is concerned about flooding.

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

There were expectations that the storm this week could exceed the amount of snow seen in the region since the record-breaking November 1985 blizzard. On Nov. 21 and 27, snow storms in the area brought a total of 17.5 inches of snow in Seattle in one of the coldest Novembers on record.

Seattle's largest snowstorm on record of all time occurred Jan. 5-9 in 1880, with snow accumulation of 6 feet in some places, according to the Daily Mail.

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