PORTLAND, Ore. - Snow, ice and shivering cold blasted normally mild cities from Seattle to Las Vegas to San Francisco on Tuesday as winter weather sweeping across the U.S. West shuttered schools, made travel treacherous and closed all roads in Yosemite National Park.
Winter storms have been hitting the West for several days and brought a surprise dusting to peaks overlooking San Francisco — the city's first notable snow in eight years. Snow also piled higher at ski resorts, closing runs in Lake Tahoe and the California mountains as snow reached 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 metres) since Saturday.
"We don't get snow up here in the area," said Jess Moseley, who travelled from the San Francisco Bay Area to snowy Mount Diablo State Park 40 miles (64 kilometres) away. "You have to go to Tahoe or wherever to play in the snow. So we just came up to see if it was still here, and it is."
In the Pacific Northwest, lows plunged into the teens in Seattle, making roads slick and closing schools throughout the area for a second day. Unusual snow fell a day earlier, causing crashes and cancelling flights, and lower-than-normal temperatures were expected throughout the week.
Rare snow and cold also walloped Portland, Oregon, where it shut schools and left some higher elevation roads slick.
Natalie Razey, 9, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, said that when the snow flurries started Monday, her teacher shared some advice for ensuring a snow day Tuesday.
"Our teacher let us do a snow dance while it was snowing at school yesterday, and I flushed ice cubes down the toilet and I put spoons under my pillow," she said during a break from sledding and snowball fights.
In Nevada, the National Weather Service reported light snow in northwest Las Vegas.
Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts celebrated the biggest storm of the season, with 3 feet (1 metre) recorded over 24 hours. That brought the total to about 7 feet (2 metres) at Heavenly Ski Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort since Saturday. But so much snow fell, they could only open limited trails.
About 120 miles (190 kilometres) south, Mammoth Mountain Resort reported 10 feet (3 metres) of snow since Saturday and closed all but a few trails.
Yosemite's ski area also shut down, while restaurants had shorter hours and shuttles were not running because of snow-covered roads.
"It's beautiful and we certainly need the snow, but we're asking people to stay indoors," park spokesman Scott Gediman said.
California is still recovering from a drought that led to tight water restrictions and contributed to severe wildfires.
In Utah, a semi-trailer slid off an icy highway in a canyon and hit a deputy, sending him to the hospital with serious injuries and closing the road. The unnamed Rich County sheriff's deputy is expected to survive. He was hit outside his vehicle as he investigated a different semi-trailer that had lost control and rolled off the road.
It was one of several crashes across Utah as several inches of snow fell.
Montana residents braved the third day of subzero temperatures and biting wind chill.
Wind and fresh snowfall led officials to warn of high avalanche danger in southwestern Montana near Yellowstone National Park, and an avalanche warning was in place for the Centennial Mountains in eastern Idaho.
The region, which also includes northwestern Wyoming, was expected to receive up to 8 more inches (20 centimetres) of snow in the mountains by Wednesday.
For much of the rest of Montana, officials warned of wind chills between 20 and 35 degrees below zero through Wednesday. In those conditions, frostbite can set in within 10 minutes, officials said.
Those who ventured out in downtown Helena during a break in the snow shrugged off the minus 4 degree temperature, calling it one prolonged cold snap in what's been a relatively mild winter.
"It's inconvenient, that's all," said Bruce Schwartz, a 62-year-old retiree. "I'm going to work out and spend a lot of time soaking in the hot tub."
Associated Press writers Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco; Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada; Matt Volz in Helena, Montana; and Terry Chea at Mount Diablo State Park, California, contributed to this report.