Snowstorm buries northwest US, with more on the way

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People arrive on skis at a cafe after a large storm blanketed the city with snow on February 9, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. ( David Ryder/Getty Images/AFP)
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People play on a hill in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood after a large storm blanketed the city with snow on February 9, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.(David Ryder/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Snowstorm buries northwest US, with more on the way

  • More than a foot of snow (30.5 cm) was recorded in some areas, including on the Olympic Peninsula
  • The National Weather Service said additional snow could fall Saturday, and another storm was expected early next week

SEATTLE: A winter storm that blanketed Washington state with snow and forced the cancelation of more than 200 flights moved south into Oregon as meteorologists warned Saturday that yet more was on the way.
In Seattle, where heavy snowfall is a rarity, residents cleared out grocery store shelves and left work early Friday afternoon as the storm arrived. On Saturday, many got out ski gear and sleds and took to neighborhood hills or even streets that were too steep for cars to navigate.
In Tacoma, hundreds of people turned out for a snowball fight in a park after someone who lives nearby suggested it on Facebook. They took cover behind picnic tables and used sleds as shields.
“This is a perfect morning to bundle up and play in the snow, but stay off the roads if possible,” Gov. Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter.
More than a foot of snow (30.5 cm) was recorded in some areas, including on the Olympic Peninsula, in the nation’s latest bout of winter weather. In central Washington, blowing snow and drifts 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) deep forced the closure of US 2 and Interstate 90. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office warned that snow drifts were blocking many roads.
“Snow conditions are worsening minute to minute, so don’t expect travel conditions to improve,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
The National Weather Service said additional snow could fall Saturday, and another storm was expected early next week.
About 180 people spent the night at an emergency shelter set up at Seattle Center, with officials going out again on Saturday to get other homeless residents to safety. Inslee declared a state of emergency over the storm, and sliding cars caused crashes on highways, though traffic was light. The state transportation department said crews had to clear several trees that had fallen across roads in the Tacoma area.
In Portland, a tanker truck slid into a sport-utility vehicle on an interchange between Interstates 5 and 84 on Saturday, blocking the ramp for hours.
Other parts of the country were also wrestling with difficult weather. Residents of Hawaii were bracing for coastal flooding amid extreme surf predictions. A California man died in rough waters off of Maui on Friday, Hawaii News Now reported.
In California, more than 120 visitors and staff members were rescued Thursday after being trapped by up to 7 feet (2 meters) of snow in a Sierra Nevada resort for five days.
Another winter storm was on the way to the region.
In Yosemite National Park, as many as 50 housing structures near Half Dome Village were damaged by trees toppled during a snowstorm earlier this week, displacing more than 160 employees who provide food, lodging and other services for visitors.
Elsewhere, more than 148,000 customers lost power in Michigan following days of freezing rain. The Consumers Energy utility said power would be restored by late Sunday.
In Washington, about 50,000 people lost power. In Seattle, snowfall from Sunday and Monday lingered into the week as below-freezing temperatures gripped the area. A 59-year-old man died Thursday from exposure at a Seattle light rail station.
Residents in Portland and Seattle who are more accustomed to rain than snow waited in long lines to buy shovels and de-icer.
Autumn Sang was at a mobbed grocery store in Tualatin, Oregon, on Friday stocking up for the coming storm for herself and her neighbor, who is disabled and doesn’t have a car.
Sang said she had never seen the store so crowded. She grew up in southern Oregon, where snow is more common, and wasn’t fazed by the forecast.
“I love it. I’m excited about it,” she said of the snow. “I think that Portlanders, most of them are city people and they come from a lot of different places, so they’re not so used to it. It’s like, ‘Use your brain! If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out.’ “


Sri Lanka churches halt public services over security fears

Updated 22 min 57 sec ago
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Sri Lanka churches halt public services over security fears

  • Potential bombers ‘at large’ as death toll lowered to 253
  • Muslims asked to shun Friday prayer

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches suspended all public services over security fears on Thursday, as thousands of troops joined the hunt for suspects in deadly Easter bombings.

A senior priest said that all public services were being suspended and all churches closed “on the advice of security forces.”

Authorities revised the death toll down to 253, from the previous figure of 359, explaining that some of the badly mutilated bodies had been double-counted.

The father of two of the suspected bombers has been arrested on suspicion of aiding his sons.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said suspects remained at large and could have access to explosives. Some of the suspects “may go out for a suicide attack,” Wickremesinghe said.

Hundreds of Ahmadi refugees in western Sri Lanka have taken refuge in mosques and a police station after facing intimidation following the bombings. Scores of Ahmadis who settled in Negombo after fleeing persecution in their home countries have been thrown out of their accommodation by landlords.

Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday over security failures. He submitted a letter of resignation to President Maithripala Sirisena.

Britain’s Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka.

“The horrific attack is a demonstration of how tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) that originated in this island nation several decades ago returned to haunt a shocked and broken government thanks to a complete collapse of counterterrorism capability or capacity,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, a security expert, writes in an opinion piece.

Hate preacher Zahran Hashim, head of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath group that is being blamed for the attacks, developed a reputation as a preacher who “copied” Daesh propaganda videos to enhance his posts via the pro-Daesh Al-Ghuraba media channel, which used Facebook and YouTube as its primary platforms, Karasik says. 

Sri Lanka’s Islamic affairs minister, M. H. M. Haleem, asked all Muslims to avoid prayers on Friday for security reasons. He also said it would be a mark of respect for those who perished in the nation’s worst violence in years.

Politician and Western Province Gov. Azath Salley told Arab News that the blasts were orchestrated by a handful of extremists and that the island’s Muslim population could not be held responsible for their “deviant” actions.