Spokane Digs Out From Record-Breaking Snow

By: AP
By: AP

Spokane residents were trying to dig out Tuesday after a month of record-breaking snow collapsed roofs and clogged streets.

The center of a snow-laden supermarket roof in north Spokane collapsed Monday evening, prompting the evacuation of that store and adjacent businesses. A fire official said only one minor injury was reported.

The roof collapse came as Spokane set a monthly record for snowfall, at 59.7 inches, after 8.3 inches were recorded in the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ellie Kelch. That's more snow than the area receives in a typical winter.

The previous record of 56.9 inches was set in January 1950. Snowfall records in the area have been kept since 1893, Kelch said.

Roads were so clogged in Spokane that police asked tractor-trailer rig drivers to use chains, after several big trucks became stuck in giant snowbanks. Black ice was also causing numerous accidents on Interstate 90, officials said.

All 90 of Spokane's plows, sanders and deicers were working to clear arterial streets, leaving residential streets that were still clogged with snow, officials said. Private contractors have also been hired.

The Washington State Patrol responded to about 50 collisions Monday, Trooper Joe Leibrecht said, but no serious injuries were reported.

Natural gas leaks occurred where snow or ice fell and sheared off gas meters. Southwest Airlines canceled some flights at the Spokane airport, and other airlines reported delays.

In Michigan, meanwhile, flood warnings remained in effect Tuesday for areas along most of the Lower Peninsula's major rivers and streams as crews worked to restore electrical service to thousands left without power since the weekend.

About 20,000 of 183,000 CMS Energy Corp. customers who lost electrical service during Sunday's storms remained without service Tuesday morning. About 45,000 of 230,000 DTE Energy Co. customers were waiting for their power to be restored.

Both utilities brought in workers from Indiana, Ohio and other states to help restore electricity, Jackson-based CMS and Detroit-based DTE said. The power companies said they expected service to be fully restored by Wednesday.

In southeastern Wisconsin, the National Weather Service predicted the Fox River would crest about a foot over flood stage Tuesday in the town of Wheatland. In northwest Missouri, the Grand River reached nearly 9 feet above flood stage in places over the weekend.

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Associated Press writer Jim Irwin in Detroit contributed to this report.

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