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Leavenworth declares emergency after record snowfall

The city of Leavenworth received 36 inches of snow in under 24 hours. It now plans to ask the National Guard for help.

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The mayor of Leavenworth declared an emergency Friday after the city said record snowfall caused concern for life safety and structure stability.

Leavenworth received 36 inches of snow in less than 24 hours Thursday, and some microclimates received up to 48 inches of snow in the last 48 hours, according to the city.

Mayor Carl Florea also approved a request to ask the National Guard to help with citizen welfare checks, food delivery, snow cleanup and private driveway snow removal.

The emergency allows the city to use local resources quickly without going through the normal bidding process.  

Nearby, the town of Wenatchee possibly saw a record amount of snowfall over a 24-hour period Thursday. The National Weather Service (NWS) said the Wenatchee Experiment Station recorded 23.3 inches of snow over a 24-hour period Jan. 5-6.

The previous record was set in December 1971 at 16.5 inches.

The record remains unofficial until the observation from the Wenatchee water plant cooperative observer can be confirmed, according to the NWS.  

Pretty, shocking and historic were the words central Washington residents like Andrea Hoey used to describe their yards.

“By far I think this will surpass the one we had in 1996,” Hoey said.

Overnight video from the NWS shows the build-up of snow. Snowplows needed multiple trips to clear roads, and sidewalks and driveways disappeared along with cars.

Keith Parsons of Utah is visiting his in-laws and dug out the driveways and cars with his wife’s help to ensure their in-laws could get out if needed.

“The hard part was where do you put that much snow?” Parsons said.

Meanwhile, flooding in parts of Lewis County and the southern and central Puget Sound region has prompted road closures, evacuations and impacted schools and businesses Friday morning.

Snow in the mountains has created such hazardous conditions that the Washington State Department of Transportation said it may have to keep all major passes in the Cascades closed until Sunday.

The NWS said that the precipitation over the region won’t lift fully until Saturday night into Sunday morning, with sunny skies expected to close out the weekend.