SEATTLE, Washington — (DMN/CNN) – Even as snowfall slowed Wednesday in the Pacific Northwest, officials warned that falling temperatures would make roads icy and dangerous for drivers. “We are seeing multiple spinouts and collisions,” the Washington State Department of Transportation reported on its website, advising drivers to slow down as road conditions worsened. Some normally busy streets in Seattle looked more like ski runs, as residents with sleds and snowboards took advantage of what could be one of the area’s largest snowfalls in decades.
The National Weather Service canceled a winter storm warning for the area Wednesday afternoon, but said a winter weather advisory would remain in effect until midnight. Light snowfall was expected to continue throughout the evening. High-wind warnings were in effect along the coast, where winds could gust to hurricane force, knocking down trees and causing power outages, said CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward. Wednesday’s snowfall in Seattle may equal its annual average, Ward said.
KOMO-TV showed images of overturned vehicles and carports and awnings that collapsed under the weight of the snow. Precipitation moving in from the south and west is combining with cold air moving south from Canada to create the heavy snowfall, said Dustin Guy, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Seattle office. If snowfall amounts top 7 inches, the winter weather event will rank among Seattle’s 10 worst since the early 1940s, when record-keeping began, he added. A series of severe winter storms and record-breaking cold also hit the region in the 1950s, according to KOMO.
While that amount of snow is no problem in places that receive snow regularly, heavy snowfall is relatively rare in Seattle, where steep hills can make winter travel treacherous. “This city shuts down when winter hits. It’s nuts. … This city is just so unprepared for snow,” Derek Stanek, 25, told CNN’s iReport. Nevertheless, city officials maintained they were ready for the storm. Deicing measures were in place on bridges and overpasses, emergency shelters were opened, schools were closed and some flights were canceled.
Using a ruler outside his home near Tacoma, Washington, Joel Pederson measured 6 inches of snow Wednesday. And it was still coming down, Pederson told CNN’s iReport. “We have not had this much snow since the 1980s,” he said. Official snow measurements for the day were not expected until Thursday morning. But Washington’s capital, Olympia, had already received 13 inches of snow by Wednesday afternoon: the third highest 24-hour snowfall on record and the largest amount of snow that had fallen there since 1972, when 14.2 inches of snow fell in one day. As of late Wednesday morning, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had received 4 inches of snow, with 4.7 inches measured in Tacoma, as the second of twin winter storms moved through, according to the National Weather Service
Up to 8 inches of snow was forecast for the metropolitan area. The town of Winlock, Washington, about 105 miles south of Seattle, had received 16 inches by late Wednesday morning, the weather service said. The town of Chehalis, about 18 miles north of Winlock, had 14 inches. Mountainous areas of the Pacific Northwest will see even more snow, with the largest accumulations on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, according to the weather service. Significant snowfall is expected across southern Washington, northwest Oregon and into western Idaho.
From late Tuesday through early Thursday, 2 feet to 3.5 feet of snow is forecast for the mountains east of Seattle, Guy said. Mount Rainier could see 10 feet of snow by Friday. However, the snow in Portland, Oregon, had changed into heavy rain Wednesday morning as warm air intruded into the area. The city was under a flood advisory because of the rain and melting snow, the weather service said. High winds were also forecast for the area. At Otter Rock, on the central Oregon coast, a gust of 110 mph was recorded, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris reported, along with gusts topping 80 mph at Lincoln City and Florence.
The first storm moved into the area Monday and Tuesday. “It’s pretty big when you get back-to-back storms like that,” weather service meteorologist Roger Cloutier said. Winter storm warnings Wednesday touched portions of eight states, stretching into Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The snowfall extends south into Oregon, with as much as 18 inches forecast for the Bend area. CNN affiliate KTVZ in Bend said an earlier round of snow over the weekend gave a boost to local ski resorts but also created dangerous driving conditions that left at least one motorist dead. Those conditions were expected to worsen. “Expect extreme travel difficulties to develop on Wednesday,” the weather service said, advising those who must take to the roads during the storm to carry a flashlight, blankets and extra food and water.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said 1,250 workers will use nearly 500 pieces of equipment statewide to treat and plow roadways. The heavy snowfall will be followed by rain in Seattle, which could produce accumulated water and urban flooding, Guy said. “It’s just gonna be a mess all around,” he said of the coming few days in the Seattle area.
CNN’s Thelma Gutierrez, Brad Lendon, Sean Morris and Christina Zdanowicz contributed to this report.
Seriously. There is nothing in the world more aggravating and more necessary than the Transportation Security Administration. CNN is reporting that the Transportation Security Administration has apologized for the actions of some airport screeners, and that its officers did not follow standard procedures when they asked to see a colostomy device on one woman and put another woman’s back brace through an X-ray machine. But the agency stands by its earlier statements that neither woman was strip searched or asked to remove any clothing.
This is the third time the TSA has altered its response to the allegations made by two elderly women passing through New York’s JFK International Airport during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011. The complaints of Ruth Sherman and Lenore Zimmerman came within days of one another. Both claimed that after opting out of the walk-through metal detector, they were subjected to strip searches by two female TSA officers at the airport. Sherman’s son, Ralph, told CNN his mother has a permanent colostomy bag attached to the left of her navel which causes a bulge under her clothing. He was not present during the incident, but has been speaking on behalf of his mother.
Upon noticing the bulge, according to Ralph Sherman, TSA officers said to his mother, “Pull down your pants. Pull down your underwear.” In a blog post on December 4, shortly after the alleged incidents occurred, TSA firmly denied the allegations. “TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience; however, TSA does not include strip search in its protocols,” the post read, “and a strip search did not occur in this case.” “Terrorists remain focused on attacking transportation through tactics such as concealing explosives under clothing,” the blog post added.
For the Shermans, the apology does not go far enough. Ralph Sherman says his mother, who turns 89 this month, is still traumatized by the incident. “It’s hard enough bringing an 89-year-old woman up north as it is,” he said. After hearing of the alleged incidents, state Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who wrote the New York Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, requested “an immediate and comprehensive investigation of both incidents.” Less than a week after receiving Gianaris’ e-mail, TSA bloggers posted a clarification stating it is the goal of the TSA “to provide the highest level of security while ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity and respect.”
The post went on to acknowledge a miscommunication between Zimmerman and the female officers who conducted her private screening. “Our officers were told that the passenger was wearing a money belt. Unlike medical braces and supports, money belts must be removed,” it says. It was only after the passenger removed the brace that it was determined to have a medical purpose. It is unclear why Zimmerman, 85, told the officers her back brace was a money belt. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs responded to Gianaris’ request, altering TSA’s response once again and stating, “TSA sincerely regrets any discomfort or inconvenience the passengers at JFK experienced. Please be assured that at no time are Transportation Security Officers authorized to conduct ‘strip searches’ of passengers.”
When asked about the most recent response, Gianaris said, “It’s improving but nowhere where it needs to be.” “TSA needs to do two things: one, provide safety, and number two, make sure the process is welcoming to the flying public,” he said. “And in that latter case, they failed.” I have suggested before and will say it again, the TSA NEEDS TO PROFILE! Catch the clue, ask the Israelis how to do it. It’s time to stop playing patty-cake with potential terrorists and it’s past time to stop feeling up Granny and three-year olds.
Anytime the Congress of the United States is in session and promises to do something…anything to protect us and make our lives “better” alarm bells go off. While Congress was bent on censoring the internet, lawmakers took a step back after an unprecedented protest. Political support for controversial online anti-piracy legislation began crumbling on Wednesday as leading websites staged an unprecedented one-day protest against the measures.
Wikipedia, the sixth most-visited website on the planet, pulled its English site offline Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa), which is currently pasing though the House of Representatives, and the Protect IP Act (Pipa), a similar bill under debate in the Senate. Other tech giants, including popular news sharing site Reddit, also pulled the plug while Google censored its name. The protest gained fresh momentum Wednesday when senator Marco Rubio of Florida withdrew his support for Pipa. Rubio is a rising Republican star who is seen as a possible vice president pick this year and a future presidential candidate. Rubio said that since the introduction of the bill “legitimate concerns” had been expressed about the impact it could have on access to the internet “and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the internet.” On his Facebook page, Rubio wrote: “Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”
Other lawmakers followed suit in rapid succession. John Boozman, senator for Arkansas, withdrew his support for Protect IP on his Facebook page, writing that the feedback he had received from constituents was “overwhelmingly in opposition” to the act. “The goals of the Protect IP Act are commendable, but the potential for damaging unintended consequences is its major flaw,” he wrote Moving
forward, I will work with my colleagues, the stakeholders and the American people to find a workable solution that protects intellectual property rights while promoting an open and vibrant Internet.”
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee came out against the legislation as it stands. “There needs to be a balance,” he told people at a speech in Springfield. Senator John Cornyn, a Texan Republican, also expressed his views via Facebook. “SOPA: better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time,” he wrote. Three other Republican representatives, Ben Quayle from Arizona, and Lee Terry from Nebraska, also pulled their names from Sopa. North Carolina’s congressman Patrick McHenry came out against the bill, tweeting that he opposed Sopa and would support an alternative bill drawn up by Darrell Issa, the Republican congressman who has led the charge against Sopa.
Collapsing political support came as websites in Washington failed under a deluge of traffic from anti-Sopa activists. Lamar Smith, who as chairman of the House judiciary committee introduced SOPA, said: “I hope the facts will eventually overcome the fears.” Smith’s spokesman added: “We knew it was coming, but it is disappointing.” The Republican backlash follows clear signals from the Obama administration that they will not pass Sopa or Pipa in their current form. “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” White House officials said this weekend.
But despite the victories, the tech community remained concerned that anti-piracy legislation would be rushed through Congress. Yesterday Chris Dodd, former senator and chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), slammed Wikipedia and others protest plans, calling them “dangerous” and a “gimmick”. He called on Congress to engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy. A vote on Pipa is still expected in the senate on January 24. Protesters have been demonstrating outside the offices of New York senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who have supported the bill. “This is the biggest online protest in history, and it’s no wonder,” said Holmes Wilson, co-founder of Fight For The Future, a lobbying group. “Internet users have grown up around the abuse of copyright laws to punish political speech, creativity, and successful businesses. So the thought of giving rightsholders the power to erase entire sites from the web is horrifying to us.”
Roughly 300 protesters assembled in front of the offices of New York senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer this afternoon to denounce the legislators’ co-sponsorship of PIPA. Gathered inside a barricade pen, the demonstrators heard from an array of speakers, including a number of prominent figures in the tech industry. New York Tech Meet Up Chairman, Andrew Rasiej, coordinated the demonstration and introduced each speaker. Rasiej claimed the protest was essential to maintaining the vitality of New York City vibrant tech sector. “This is about the future of New York, jobs for New York and the future of the open web,” he said. “What we’re seeing here is a classic example of our 20th century politics clashing with the realities of a 21st century connected humanity and a global economy.”
Rasiej, and the string of speakers he introduced, called on senators Schumer and Gillibrand to pull their support for the controversial legislation. Many pointed out that the tech industry in New York city employs tens of thousands of individuals; including women and young people, who are often excluded from other industries. On top of that, the speakers added, the industry continues to grow. Andrew McLaughlin, executive vice president of Tumblr, said a free and open internet empowers disenfranchised movements and people to have their voices heard. Meanwhile, Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, said the struggle to combat the bills was, “a fight to save democracy.” “Let this be the beginning,” Ohanian added. I remember today the slogan of the 40th Security Police Flight at Aviano Air Base in Italy… “Vigilance is the price of freedom.” Indeed. Thank you to everyone who told Congress NO in this important piece of legislation.
The Guardian contributed to this report