Seattle Ice Storm Grounds Flights as 180,000 Left Without Power

An ice storm closed runways at Seattle’s main airport and cut power to more than 180,000 people across the Puget Sound region.

Alaska Air Group Inc., the largest carrier at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, planned to cancel as much as 70 percent of today’s schedule, President Brad Tilden said in a King 5 television interview.

Freezing rain on top of near-record snowfall yesterday in parts of the region led to ice accumulations that made travel dangerous, according to the National Weather Service. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire declared a state of emergency, allowing her to activate the National Guard if needed.

By 11 a.m., 184,000 customers in counties including King, Thurston and Pierce had lost power, local utility Puget Sound Energy wrote on its Twitter feed. Tree limbs weighed down by ice were breaking and damaging power lines, the utility said.

Boeing Co., whose commercial-airplane operations are centered on Seattle, idled a plant in Frederickson, Washington, while other facilities in the region stayed open. The closed factory makes parts for jets that include the 787 Dreamliner.

At least 64 flights have been pulled in Seattle, according to, a flight-data tracking company based in Houston.

Rebooking Fliers

Passengers on scrubbed flights will be rebooked later at no charge, Seattle-based Alaska Air said in a message on Twitter. Two of three Seattle-Tacoma runways were open at midday, the airport said in a statement on its website.

The University of Washington canceled classes at three sites, including its Seattle campus, while Washington State University in Pullman closed and Seattle public schools were also shut for a second full day, according to their websites.

Interstate 90 east of Seattle was closed in some stretches after “multiple collisions,” according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Fallen trees blocked other roads. Bus and train service was limited.

“This is purely a precautionary measure,” Gregoire said in a statement accompanying the emergency declaration. “So far, we haven’t received any requests for state assistance -- but we know weather conditions are rapidly changing.”

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