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Snow Report: Bad For Drivers, Good For Skiers

Dec 23, 2015
Crews repair one of three roadway washouts at milepost 154 over White Pass on Dec. 16. The pass has since reopened.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Mx0Nx1

David Hyde speaks the recent snow onslaught in the Cascades with National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Beuhner and Adam McKenney, owner of Leavenworth Mountain Sports.

William Wells raises a weather balloon for launch on St. Paul Island, Alaska.
KUCB photo/John Ryan

William Wells dashes out into a 30-knot wind, releases a huge balloon and watches it whip toward the endless whitecaps of the Bering Sea.

It’s all in a day’s work at what may be the nation's most remote weather station.

Heavy rains in the lowlands and heavy snow in the mountains are making holiday travel tricky.

Washington’s White Pass on U.S. Highway 12 near Mount Rainier is still closed both eastbound and westbound. Crews are still working 24/7 to open the high Cascade pass by Christmas, but winter storms might slow that work down.

U.S. Highway 12 at White Pass is still closed to all but local residents both east and west. The state’s Department of Transportation is working to clear three rockslides and one washout. But there is still no estimate for reopening the highway.

The federal government announced Friday that it would send $1 million each to Washington and Oregon for fast road repairs after heavy storms this week. Both Washington and 13 counties in Oregon are under emergency declarations.

Washington state transportation officials have crews out assessing the damage to White Pass on U.S. Highway 12 near Mt. Rainier Thursday. There’s no estimate yet of when the high pass will reopen after heavy rains tore the roadway out in several places and caused rockslides.

Andrew Ide grapples with flooding on his farm in Snohomish.
Courtesy of Micha Ide

Farmer Micha Ide had to canoe off her property for this interview – that’s how bad the flooding was.

Ide was at her neighbor’s house when she spoke with KUOW’s Bill Radke. Her goats and sheep were there too, and would be until waters from the Snohomish River recede.

Washington and Oregon geologists are warning residents of a higher risk for landslides than usual this week. Several storms moving through the region have quickly drenched steep slopes.

ermine methow valley ashley siple
Courtesy of Ashley Siple

Ashley Siple, a cross-country skier, was spending the weekend in the Methow Valley when she spotted a tiny white creature bounding across the snow.

Heavy rains have flooded the one road in and out of La Push on the Washington coast. That means the 300-400 residents of the Quileute Indian Reservation are cut off.

As it contines to move across Mexico, Patricia has lost most of its strength. It is now a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Flights to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, from Seattle and other West Coast cities were canceled Friday and Saturday as Hurricane Patricia slammed into Mexico’s central Pacific coast.

rain trees
Flickr Photo/Michael B. (CC BY NC ND)/http://bit.ly/1RsXA5U

David Hyde talks to Knute Berger, writer and historian for Crosscut, about how and why rain is such an important part of a Northwesterner's identity. 

On Thursday morning, Patricia was a relatively small Category 1 hurricane. By Friday afternoon, it was the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.

Is climate change to blame for this record-breaking storm's ferocious rise?

The answer is complex, and shows why it's so hard to tie a single weather event to global warming.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

The National Hurricane Center says the eye of Hurricane Patricia has made landfall near Cuixmala on Mexico's southwestern Pacific coast. Its winds were measured at 165 mph, somewhat weakened but still a Category 5 storm capable of catastrophic damage.

Our original post continues:

The most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the eastern Pacific will make a "potentially catastrophic landfall" in southwestern Mexico Friday, the National Weather Service says. Hurricane Patricia is bringing winds that now top 200 mph; it's expected to strike Friday afternoon or evening.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The latest El Niño forecast report is out from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and it looks like the drought will continue into next year for most of Washington.

1962: Remembering The Deadly Columbus Day Storm

Oct 12, 2015
Columbus Day Storm damage at 30th Avenue and East Spruce Street. The photo was taken Oct. 15, 1962, three days after the storm struck.
Seattle Municipal Archives

A lot of strange things happened in October 1962.

In Hollywood, Bobby "Boris" Pickett topped the charts with “Monster Mash.” In New York, James Brown recorded his incredible "Live at the Apollo" album. And in Cuba, offensive missile sites were being built, marking the start of the Cuban missile crisis.

Closer to home, the Pacific Northwest was about to face one of the most destructive natural disasters in American history.

Seattle Public Utilities says its dams are about three-quarters full.
Flickr photo/Konstantin Stepanov (CC BY 2.0)

Way to go, Seattle and Tacoma and Everett. You’ve cut your water use by 14 percent over the past eight weeks. That handily beat the goal of the region’s city water managers of a 10 percent reduction.

The bad news, the cities said Wednesday, is that typical fall rains still haven't arrived (despite the drizzle outside) to end the drought gripping Washington state.

Paper or plastic? If you're at a restaurant in the coastal city of Fort Bragg, Calif., that's what your food is likely to be served on these days.

The drought-stricken city, located about 170 miles north of San Francisco, recently declared a "stage 3" water emergency, which makes it mandatory for businesses and residents to reduce water usage.

The sun was shining in South Carolina Tuesday, but people are still trying to recover from heavy rains that caused 18 dams to breach or fail in the state. Since severe flooding began over the weekend, at least 16 deaths have been reported, including two people who died in North Carolina.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

Extinguishing hope that the cargo ship that went missing near the Bahamas could have survived a Thursday encounter with Hurricane Joaquin, the Coast Guard announced Monday that the ship, El Faro, sank, according to the Associated Press. The Coast Guard also found an unidentified body of one crew member.

Updated at 1:10 a.m. ET Monday:

A powerful rainstorm continues to soak South Carolina. At least five deaths have been reported across the state. Several sections of interstate highways have been closed including a 70-mile portion of I-95. In the state's capital Columbia, rescue operations will continue through at least Monday. Many schools and universities have canceled Monday classes and some businesses will also be closed. Forecasters predict it could be Tuesday before the rain stops.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

U.S. Drought Monitor

Under Friday's gun-metal skies, Seattleites might be forgiven for thinking the drought gripping Washington state for the past year is over.

It’s not.

Updated 6:05 p.m. ET

Joaquin, the fourth hurricane of the Atlantic Season, is forecast to churn off the coast of Florida for the next couple of days before potentially heading north and posing a threat to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

With maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, Joaquin became a hurricane today. The storm's long-term path is still uncertain, but forecasters predict the tropical cyclone could pose a threat to the Mid-Atlantic or New England states.

rain gif
Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds speaks with Cynthia Barnett, author of "Rain: A Natural and Cultural History," about the unexpected things she learned while writing a book about rain. The book has been longlisted for a National Book Award.

Gil Aegerter

Ross Reynolds speaks with John Ratte, a New Orleans native who moved to Seattle after Hurricane Katrina devastated his city. 

The Washington drought report for Aug. 26, 2015.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Washington is seeing fire and rain this weekend, as huge wildfires burn in Chelan and Okanogan counties and a major storm bears down on the western part of the state.

“There is a potent, juicy system headed our way,” state climatologist Nick Bond told KUOW's Marcie Sillman.

It wasn't all in your head — last month was hotter than ever before.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that July had the highest average temperatures in records since 1880.

And it's not just in the U.S. Average July temperatures around the world set heat records too, NPR's Kat Chow reports.

She tells our Newscast unit that:

"This confirms what NASA and a Japanese agency found using separate data.

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