An unusual group of storm systems battering the Pacific Northwest has halted dozens of flights and knocked out power for thousands, hitting Seattle with as much snowfall in one day as it usually receives in a year, according to the National Weather Service.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington declared a state of emergency on Friday.
“Everyone in our state needs to focus on preparing for the snow and staying safe,” he said in a statement. “Weather forecasters predict this may be a storm unlike one we’ve seen in many years. I encourage everyone to stay off the roads if possible and plan ahead if you must travel.”
In one day, 7.2 inches of snow were recorded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. “Our average snowfall is around seven inches for the season,” said Jeff Michalski, a meteorologist with the weather service.
“It is a lot of snow at once to deal with across the region,” Mr. Michalski said. “There is another system that is going to come in tomorrow.”
More than 200 flights have been canceled at the Seattle airport on Saturday, according to Flight Aware, the flight-tracking website. Power failures have affected over 60,000 customers in Washington, according to Puget Sound Energy.
Washingtonians will get a brief break from the snow during the day on Sunday before the storm resumes heading into Monday, producing another four inches or so of snow across the state overnight, according to Mr. Michalski.
Seattle has made more resources available for residents and the city’s sizable homeless population.
“The city continues to work to limit the impact of this winter storm on residents and access to services,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said on Saturday. “The city is preparing for additional 1-3 inches of snow throughout today, and monitoring forecasts for the potential of additional snow ahead of Monday morning’s commute.”
On Thursday, a 59-year-old man was found dead of exposure at a light-rail station in Seattle, The Seattle Times reported.
The Seattle Police Department announced additional efforts to get people out of the cold.
“We are adding additional emergency services to care for our vulnerable homeless community,” including dedicating Police Department vans to transport people to shelters, the department said on Twitter on Friday.
Rex Hohlbein, the founder of Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit organization that provides homeless people in Seattle with things they may need, has been handing out fuel, heaters, tents and tarps to those who are at risk in the frigid weather.
“People that are living in tents right now, outside, when you get a cold snap like this they often don’t want to leave their tents and go to a shelter because if they do their stuff can be stolen,” Mr. Hohlbein said in a phone interview.
Last year, Facing Homelessness counted 8,500 homeless people in the streets of Seattle, some in shelters and some living in tents or under bridges. Mr. Hohlbein said the number might have climbed up to 10,000.
“We know we are not going to be able to help everyone, but to the people we do give help to, it makes a difference,” he said.
Early Saturday, Mr. Hohlbein handed a small tank of fuel and a heater to a man who had spent the previous night under a bridge.
“You could see they are happy to get this stuff,” Mr. Hohlbein said. “He told me, ‘God, it was cold last night, I could barely stand it,’ when I gave him the heater.”