Anguish has joined uncertainty in the continuing search for victims in the wake of a mudslide, north of Seattle, which has officially claimed 14 lives. Meanwhile the number of those missing rose from 18 on Saturday to 176 on Monday.
The search and rescue effort carried into a fourth day at sunrise this morning.
"I believe it's fair to say that most of us in these communities believe that we will not find any individuals alive," said Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington. "I am a man of faith, and I believe in miracles," but "we are moving towards a recovery operation."
The Snohomish County fire chief told residents that, after finding no additional survivors on Monday, "The situation is very grim."
The landslide covered about a square mile and was caused by groundwater saturation tied to heavy rain in the area over the past month. It affected Oso, with a population of about 180, and Darrington, a town of about 1,350.
But Pennington remained somewhat optimistic, saying Monday evening that, "the 176, I believe very strongly, is not going to be a number of fatalities. We're trying to whittle that down."
Hopes are fading north of Seattle where a massive mudslide has claimed at least eight lives. Search and rescue teams had some optimism late Saturday night when they said they heard voices calling for help from the wreckage, but dangerous conditions forced the rescuers to turn back as darkness set in. By Sunday morning, no sounds were coming from the same area.
Seattle's KCPQ-TV reports that more bodies were discovered in the mudslide area late Sunday, but at least 18 people were still unaccounted for.
The 1-square-mile mudslide destroyed approximately 30 homes, and officials described the scene as a "big wall of mud and debris," blocking about a mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, approximately 55 miles north of Seattle.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as a "square mile of total devastation" after surveying the site by air on Sunday.
After a spectacular weekend of warmth and sunshine, the Treasure Valley was jolted out of its sleep this morning with a reminder that winter isn't through with us just yet—though we're told that the official first day of spring is this Thursday, March 20.
High winds, clocked to over 50 mph, knocked out power Monday morning to a handful of customers in the Crane Creek and Wagon Wheel Road neighborhoods and thousands of customers in Caldwell, Middleton, Nampa and Wilder.
The National Weather Service office in Boise says a wind advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. for the Treasure Valley, Southwest Highlands and Owyhee Mountains, with winds gusting to around 50 mph. Drivers, especially those traveling on north-south roads, will be impacted by cross winds.
The Magic Valley was hit even harder early Monday, with winds clocked up to 60 mph and a high wind warning in effect for southern Twin Falls County in effect until 6 p.m.
The Treasure Valley should see highs in the 40s and 50s for the rest of the week and overnight lows near freezing.
Idaho's water supply is improving.
It's not good by a long shot ... but it's tangibly better than early January, when nearly half of the Gem State was under a "severe" or "extreme" drought warning.
The Idaho Drought Monitor Map, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Weather Service, tracks drought conditions across the nation, and Idaho is one of the few states that include some areas with severe conditions.
And the latest drought map, published Feb. 20, indicates that approximately one-third of Idaho is still under a "severe" drought status or worse ... with "extreme" drought being reported in the Magic Valley, including Elmore, Jerome, Lincoln, Owyhee and Twin Falls counties, in addition to the majority of Gooding County.
And right after sunrise, some Punxsutawney locals (all wearing tuxedos and top hats for some reason) pulled the planet's most famous groundhog from his hibernation and claimed that the animal had seen his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of winter.
In reality, Punxsutawney Phil's prediction is decided ahead of time by the tuxedo-wearing group—called the Inner Circle.
Different incarnations of Punxsutawney Phil have been predicting the weather since 1887 at Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in the town for which he's named, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Out of 126 times, the groundhog has seen his shadow 101 times.
And for the record, The National Climatic Data Center says the ridiculous ceremony has "no predictive skill."
"It really isn't a `bright' idea to take a measure such as a groundhog's shadow and use it as a predictive meteorological tool for the entire United States," the data center says on its website.
The center found that from 1988 to 2012, the groundhog was right 10 times and wrong 15 times.
The National Weather Service office in Boise reports that the Treasure and Magic valleys are dealing with patchy dense fog again this morning. Other cities—particularly in the Midwest and East Coast—should be so lucky.
More than 2,000 flights had already been canceled before sunrise this morning, as the right-hand corner of the Continental U.S. deals with another winter punch in the face. The blitz comes just a few weeks after a so-called "polar vortex" sent temperatures from Chicago to New York into Arctic-like readings.
Additionally, there have already been nearly 4,000 total delays reported this morning.
Most of this morning's cancellations were "preemptive" and the major airlines have already begun waiving rebooking fees for most travelers flying through airports affected by this week's coming storm. Nearly every major air carrier operates at least one hub at one of the airports that will see significant disruptions from the storm. United operates two of its busiest hubs at Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles. Delta has big bases at both LaGuardia and JFK airports, while both JetBlue and American operate busy hubs at JFK. US Airways counts both Philadelphia and Washington National among its hubs. And BWI is one of the busiest airports in Southwest's networks.
Landings and departures were all on schedule at the Boise Airport this morning, but travelers making connections—particularly those heading East—are cautioned to contact their airline in advance.
In the shadow of Jan. 9's terrible 44-vehicle pileup on Interstate 84, which sent multiple people to area hospitals, Ada County Highway District crews were out again this morning—beginning at 4 a.m.—spreading de-icer and sand on hilly roads, intersections and bridges.
ACHD officials said most major roadways remained passable this morning, but key areas needed treatment after near-freezing temperatures created some trouble spots. In particular, crews focused on the Boise Foothills near Table Rock and Seamans Gulch roads and the north side of State Street.
With particular concern over temperatures hovering just below or above freezing, an ACHD crew supervisor said, "If the temperatures drop, we could have some issues, so the mag (magnesium chloride) will keep those (roads) from icing up."
ACHD officials said the Jan. 9 melee included 12 accidents on I-84, the most serious occurring when a logging truck jackknifed, striking a number of vehicles and trapping one motorist for nearly an hour before he was extricated and rushed to a local hospital.
Icy patches on roadways, combined with pockets of thick fog, made treacherous driving conditions across the Treasure Valley Thursday morning.
The worst of it shut down portions of westbound Interstate 84 near Ten Mile Road, where a semi and several cars had piled up. A logging truck jackknifed, sending some of its logs spilling onto the road and on top of other vehicles. Firefighters needed to use the jaws of life to extricate passengers from some of the vehicles. A number of people were taken to area hospitals.
Additionally, crashes closed down sections of McMillan Road in both directions near Linder and Meridian roads, and Five Mile Road near Amity and Lake Hazel roads.
The National Weather Service office in Boise says more snow is likely late Thursday night and Friday, with the snow changing to freezing rain on Friday. A mix of rain and snow is forecast throughout the coming weekend.
Flights were taking off and landing as scheduled at the Boise Airport this morning, but anyone making connections—especially to points east—may need to pack some extra patience.
More than 3,500 flights were canceled Jan. 3 as a blast of snow and ice crippled much of the Midwest and East Coast. The number of delayed flights since the snow started falling on New Year's Day was approximately 50,000. Even before sunrise this morning, there were more than 750 cancellations and more than 2,400 delays.
The National Weather Service said "dangerously cold temperatures" will slam the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest through the weekend, driving wind chill temperatures in some areas to 50, 60 or even 70 degrees below zero by Sunday night.
The weather service warned that "wind chills colder than 50 below can cause exposed flesh to freeze in only five to 10 minutes." Cities and states are already taking precautions. Minnesota called off school for Monday statewide, the first such closing in 17 years.
Sunday's playoff game in Green Bay could be among one of the coldest NFL games ever played. Temperatures at Lambeau Field are expected to be a frigid minus 2 degrees when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kick off, and by the fourth quarter, it'll be a bone-chilling minus 7, with wind chills approaching minus 30, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service office in Boise is calling for sunny skies and high temperatures near freezing in the Treasure Valley. Overnight lows will drop to the single digits tonight in McCall and Sun Valley.
Residents of Boise might be able to hold out hope for a white Christmas. A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for the Treasure Valley by the National Weather Service Forecast Office.
The advisory, issued in the early morning hours of Dec. 20, forecasts snowfall between 1 and 3 inches in the Treasure Valley between 5 p.m. Dec. 20 and 5 a.m. Dec. 21. The advisory warns that roads will be covered in snow and visibility may be reduced do to blowing and drifting snow.