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)/

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.

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