On Tuesday, twenty-four U.S. states were on alert for extreme cold weather, as heavy snow caused power outages across the American Northwest and severe snowstorms dumped feet of snow in the Midwestern region, intense weather patterns that have been connected to climate change.
According to the television station ABC10, Winter storms shut down 113 kilometers stretch of Interstate 80 (I-80) in California as teams struggled to clear downed trees and heavy snow from the highway.
On Sunday, snow showers blew into the Pacific Northwest from the Gulf of Alaska, dumping up to six inches (15 cm) across the Seattle area and snarling traffic throughout the greater Portland and Seattle areas.
The US National Weather Service (NWS) said Seattle’s low on Dec. 26 was -6.7 oC, breaking a record set in 1948. Bellingham, a coastal city in Washington State, was -12.8 oC, 1.7 Celsius degrees colder than the earlier mark set in 1971.
State authorities in Oregon have declared an emergency. In Multnomah County of Oregon, nearly a half dozen weather shelters were open. Moreover, Seattle city leaders opened at least six severe weather shelters, and the mayor declared an emergency. Utilities reported around 5000 consumers without power on Monday in western Washington and Oregon.
I-80 and US-50 Opens to Commercial Trucks, Vehicles
Earlier in December, severe, abnormal weather in the central US spawned deadly tornadoes that dozens. In 2020, unusually severe cold weather gripped Central America, killing at least twenty and knocking out power to millions of customers.
The Los Angeles Times reported some Southern Californians were evacuated, and others were told to Shelter-in-place as heavy rainfalls and debris flows threatened zones near rivers, streams, and wildlife burn scars.
#TrafficAlert:⚠️Westbound & eastbound I-80 now OPEN to ONLY ESSENTIAL COMMERICAL TRUCKS & vehicles.🥳 Permit loads & non-essential commercial trucks are NOT permitted to use the interstate at this time.🛑🚔 I-80 is now OPEN from Colfax to the Nevada State-line.☃️ #KnowBeforeYouGo pic.twitter.com/YE36f8rwXM
— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) December 29, 2021
Keith Hughes of the American Legion said capacity was limited by a lack of volunteer workers. He said that volunteers, that’s is an issue for himself and everyone else in town, it is really tough to get with COVID-19 going on, adding that there were plans to keep the space open for nearly ten days.
Interstate-80 has reopened after 3-days of being closed, but only to crucial commercial vehicles. The interstate was temporarily shut amid record-setting snow in the Lake Tahoe area.
The declaration from Caltrans means both I-80 and Highway 50 are open to motor operators, but it also comes as US NWS advises against mountain travel amid heavy snow anticipated between midnight and 7 AM. Previously, Caltrans also recommended to stay at home amid the traffic influences and weather conditions along US-50.