Winter visits with a vengeance from East to West - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Winter visits with a vengeance from East to West

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Posted: Monday, December 22, 2008 11:18 pm | Updated: 11:00 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

 The weather outside was frightful from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore., on Monday, with last-minute holiday shoppers shivering and stranded travelers hoping for the best as Christmas rapidly approached.

The little town of Eustis, Maine, got nearly 3½ feet of snow.

In Marysville, Wash., north of Seattle, heavy snow collapsed part of the roof Monday at the Whitley Evergreen factory, which makes modular buildings. No one was injured, but inspectors were dispatched to make sure other buildings in the business park were safe.

The 14.5-inch snowfall Sunday in Portland, Maine, surpassed the old record for Dec. 21 of 12.4 inches, set in 1933. On the other side of the country, a total of 11 to 13 inches in Portland, Ore., was the biggest snowfall since January 1980. Depending on how much more fell Monday as the snow trailed off, the storm could rank as one of the city's 10 worst on record.

"It is amazing," said Dave Thompson, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "You say to yourself: 'That's Portland?' The roads are snowpacked, covered with ice and it's freezing rain."

Kim Osgood, who owns Paloma Clothing in the Hillsdale Shopping Center in southwest Portland, served hot cocoa on Sunday and gave away $24 crampons — foot gear for ice and snow climbs — to anyone spending $50 in her store.

"This is the worst Christmas I have ever seen in 33 years," Osgood said. "The good news here is for shoppers. If they can get out, they'll get amazing bargains."

Temperatures in Chicago — hard hit over the weekend with subzero readings as winter officially began — were up to the single digits Monday and could rise to the mid-20s Tuesday. But that should coincide with several inches of snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday, forecasters said.

Snowfall was relatively scant in the Midwest and East, but high winds whipped up snow along roadways and, along with ice, made driving hazardous for holiday travelers.

In western New York, a 134-mile stretch of the state Thruway between Rochester and Pennsylvania was closed for six hours overnight because of blowing snow. In Pittsburgh, schools were initially to open two hours late but were closed for the day instead because of below-zero wind chills.

For the mid-Atlantic states, the storm took the form of weekend snow and rain — followed by a cold snap early Monday. High winds overnight cut off power to 13,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. Baltimore Gas & Electric said on its Web site that all but 1,200 had service restored by midafternoon.

Kelly Dagostino of Texarkana, Ark., was visiting New York for the first time and bundled up Monday so the cold wouldn't keep her from her plans.

"It's still cold, very cold, but I want to see stuff, so we're out and about in it," she said as she checked out Macy's holiday windows along 34th Street. The temperature in Central Park had dropped into the low teens overnight, and wind gusts near 30 mph made it feel like it was below zero.

The big snowfall in Maine was the result of a nor'easter. Before the storm even arrived, the National Weather Service issued a rare blizzard warning for eastern and northern Maine. Brooklin, on the coast, recorded a gust of 59 mph.

The town of Eustis in western Maine received a whopping 41.8 inches of snow by Monday morning. Eric Schwibs from the National Weather Service called it "the sweet spot of the storm."

For residents, however, it wasn't so sweet.

"It's beautiful, but it's a little crazy," said Linda Shane, who had to call for help when the snow jammed her car doors shut as she tried to get out of her driveway. Finally at her job at Camden National Bank, she looked out the window and said: "You can't see the gas station across the street."

In New Hampshire, the deep snow added to the misery for nearly 11,000 customers still in the dark from an ice storm more than a week earlier.

Nearly 40,000 customers remain without power across northern Indiana because of an ice storm last week. There were also more than 7,000 customers still out in Illinois on Monday and about 5,000 in northwest Ohio.

The weather was blamed for at least 11 deaths over the weekend, including a collision between a car and a semitrailer truck near New Carlisle, Ind., that killed four Marines based near Detroit. In suburban Chicago, the frozen body of a 48-year-old mother of three was found on a sidewalk near her home; an autopsy showed she died of hypothermia.

In the Seattle area, the city remained largely snowbound Monday. Limited service resumed at Sea-Tac Airport, but thousands of people were stranded because of all the flight cancellations over the weekend.

There were long, snaking lines at virtually every ticket counter at the airport Monday morning. Some travelers said they had spent 12 hours waiting for a ticket agent, taking turns sleeping while others held their places in line. The baggage claim area was littered with mounds of unclaimed luggage 6 and 7 feet high.

Hundreds of travelers were marooned even in Los Angeles, where the line to rebook Alaska Airlines flights to the Pacific Northwest stretched out the door.

But some people were able to take advantage of the storm.

Toting a snow shovel as he stopped for coffee early Monday in Seattle, Ralph Goldman, said he and two fellow handymen were going from business to business offering to shovel snow and finding no end of takers.

"It's good. I can't complain," Goldman said. "I wanted the snow so much. It keeps me happy."

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