powerful winter storm slammed most of the western U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday from Seattle to Las Vegas.
In Seattle, snow started falling a few hours before daybreak, just in time to make a mess of the morning commute. By mid-afternoon, the city had received from 3 to 6 inches, with more on steep hills and in the suburbs.
In northeastern Washinton state, Spokane virtually ground to a halt in the grip of a winter storm that dropped about two feet of snow. The storm set a local record for snowfall in 24 hours when 19.4 inches of snow was recorded at Spokane International Airport in the period that ended at 10 a.m. Thursday.
In California, Interstate 15, the main route connecting Southern California and Las Vegas, was closed by heavy snow in a mountain pass east of Los Angeles.
In Las Vegas, schools and highways were closed Thursday after a record-setting snowfall coated marquees on the Strip, weighed down palm trees and blanketed surrounding mountain areas. The storm dropped 3.6 inches of snow at McCarran International Airport. It was biggest December snowfall on record there, and the worst for any month since January 1979, forecasters said. (12 images)
Song Evans of University Place, Wash., walks with a red umbrella under a dusky gray sky along the Puget Sound near Titlow Beach in Tacoma, Wash., Thursday afternoon, Dec. 18, as snow blanketed the area. The News Tribune / Dean J. Koepfler
Marisa Erskine hefts her dog, Denali, over a snow-covered wall after the pooch jumped over as they walked during a snow storm Thursday, Dec. 18, in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle,Wash. The snow arrived dramatically in Seattle on Thursday, swirling down amid lightning and thunder to snarl traffic and close schools for tens of thousands of students. Heavy snow fell on most of Washington, with the National Weather Service predicting frigid temperatures into next week, along with more snow possible by the weekend. AP / Elaine Thompson
A shopper bundled against the weather walks past the Pike Place Market and a closed street during a snow storm Thursday, Dec. 18, in downtown Seattle, Wash. AP / Elaine Thompson
Bob Vaughn helps push a sports car out of snow that buried the car, Thursday, Dec. 18, at Dave Smith's Frontier Leasing and Sales in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Crews at a number of car dealerships worked all day trying to clear snow from their inventory and lot after a storm dropped nearly three feet of snow in Coeur d'Alene. Coeur d'Alene Press / Jerome A. Pollos
A tow truck driver, who asked to not be identified, hooks up a truck that dangled off an embankment on French Road in west Olympia, Wash. on Wednesday, Dec. 17. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Wednesday for the Olympics, Cascades, and parts of Eastern Washington including Wenatchee and Spokane. Forecasters issued a winter weather advisory for many other parts of the state, including Seattle. The Olympian / Tony Overman
Vic Edwards of Bryam Healthcare at Sprague and Ivory streets in Spokane, Wash., uses a snow blower to try to keep the parking lot clear on Wednesday, Dec. 17. The Spokesman-Review / Dan Pelle
A snowboarder heads down a side street and past snowed-in cars in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood during a snow storm Thursday, Dec. 18. AP / Elaine Thompson
Gabe Maynard of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, 6, plays in a huge pile of snow in his front yard on Thursday, Dec. 18, while his dad, Darrin, shovels the sidewalk in the background. Area schools were closed due to record snowfall. Coeur d'Alene Press / Shawn Gust
Wendy Norris of Crested Butte, Colo., right, and Debbie Jacobson from San Francisco, Calif., walk their dogs in a strong snow storm on Elk Avenue in Crested Butte, Colo. on Thursday, Dec., 18. A winter storm warning has been issued from the National weather Service for today. AP / Nathan Bilow
Sisters, Brianna Herrera, 4, left, Samantha, 2, and Kimberly, 3, build a snowman in their Adelanto, Calif. driveway as the High Desert experienced a day of heavy snow on Wednesday, Dec. 17. The Sun / Eric Reed
Snowshoers trudge through fresh fallen snow carrying snowboards in Green Valley Lake, Calif., after the second winter storm in three days dropped a foot of snow in the San Bernardino Mountains on Wednesday, Dec. 17. Los Angeles Times / Gina Ferazzi
A pedestrian holds an umbrella as she makes her way through heavy snow on Post Street in downtown Spokane, Wash., Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 17. The snowstorm, coupled with extreme icy conditions, triggered numerous traffic accidents throughout the region. The forecast calls for another 1 to 2 inches of snow on Thursday. The Spokesman-Review / Colin Mulvany