Snowstorm continues to complicate NCW conditions two days later

A Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue volunteer struggles to reach a cabin isolated by Thursday's historic snowstorm. (Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue)

WATERVILLE — Strong wind gusts between 3 and 8 p.m. Friday afternoon added to NCW’s weather woes, tangling transportation routes in Douglas County and battering weakened trees and snow-heavy structures. Peak gusts up to 48 mph were recorded at Pangborn Memorial Airport about 6 p.m.

High winds and blowing snow Thursday evening forced closure of most routes on the Waterville Plateau beginning about 3 p.m., including Highway 172 from Farmer to McNeil Canyon Road, and McNeil Canyon Road from Road E Northwest to Highway 172. One previously closed route, U.S. Highway 2 from Waterville East to Highway 17, had reopened as of 9 a.m. Saturday.

Highway 971 on the south shore of Lake Chelan remained closed today from Lake Chelan State Park to Highway 97A, thanks to multiple snowslides.

Stevens, Blewett and Snoqualmie Pass highway routes through the Cascades are likely to remain closed to all vehicles until Sunday. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency on Friday, putting the National Guard into service for disaster relief where needed.

Other elements of life began to normalize Saturday morning. After a day’s worth of effort, by 5 a.m. Saturday the Chelan County PUD managed to restore power to all customers affected by a blackout in the areas of Coles Corner, Lake Wenatchee and Plain. Some branches of NCW Libraries also began the process of reopening today. Link Transit resumed normal bus routes on Friday, although some stops remained inaccessible. Confluence Health and the Chelan-Douglas Health District said they planned to carry on with COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled for today.

Thursday’s epic blizzard dumped nearly 24 inches of snow on Wenatchee, 36 inches at Leavenworth and 56 inches at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.

The National Weather Service predicted a high near 35 today and evening lows near 14 degrees Fahrenheit, with much calmer winds than Friday. Warming temperatures could contribute to snowslides from residential roofs, which can be deadly; rescue agencies urged people to take care when passing under overhangs.