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Leavenworth WA is running out of places to put its record-breaking snowfall.

By Davis Gutzman, Seattle Times

LEAVENWORTH — Do you have any extra space? Would you like some snow? Leavenworth might be in touch.

The faux-Bavarian alpine town on the eastern slopes of the Cascades was still struggling to dig itself out Monday, after more than four feet of snow fell in less than 48-hours last week, clogging streets, shuttering businesses and causing fragile roofs to quake the weight.

National Guard arrives.

Business owners and employees shoveled. Neighbors offered snowblowers. The city has been plowing and hauling nearly 24-hours a day, for four days. The National Guard arrived Monday.

While the main streets are plowed, some smaller roads remain impassible. And when four feet falls all at once, it can’t just be pushed aside. It needs somewhere to go.

Next to a church on Monday, down the block from the school district headquarters, a Caterpillar front-loader attempted to clear the street.

It lurched forward, its plow scraping the ground. The snow compacted, filling the -cubic-yard bucket. As it pushed, its tires, some 5 feet in diameter, spun and hissed on the ice, struggling for traction. The snow in the bucket pressed into the snow in front of it, which pressed into more snow, which compacted and hardened and hardened and … the 20-ton machine skittered, slid and stalled out.

The driver lifted the bucket and reversed course. He executed an elegant K-turn in the narrow street. And he tipped the bucket, a hyper-localized deluge of snow, into the bed of an idling dump truck.

A handful of repeats and the dump truck’s trailer was full, ready to haul its frozen contents somewhere, anywhere, with more room.

There is too much snow in Leavenworth to simply plow the streets. It needs to be hauled away.

“It’s just getting it out of our city,” said Leavenworth Mayor Carl Florea, who declared a state of emergency Friday after the record-breaking snowfall. “We’ve been dumping it in every available open space, basically.”

The city has a fleet of plows, but they’ve had to hire contractors to haul the snow away.

“We’re a winter town, we know that, so we’ve got plows that can move a normal amount of snow and get it off. But when you get this much, we do not have the equipment to be able to remove snow,” Florea said. “You worry about how to for it later. You just have to do it.”

They’ve been dumping in an empty lot, behind one of the town’s few traffic-lighted intersections, and they’ve used some land adjacent to the cemetery. They put as much as they could behind Safeway.

On Monday afternoon, the dump trucks were bound for the city boat ramp, on the banks of the Wenatchee River. The parking lot there looks like a big ice rink, ringed by -foot snow walls. The dump trucks unload near those walls. Another front loader pushes the freshly arrived mounds. The walls climb higher. The snow tumbles back down.

It is at once necessary and Sisyphean. It’s keeping the dumping grounds accessible and organized. But the snow just keeps tumbling down.

Cascade Concrete - leg-breaking stuff found on Western WA ski slopes.

Two blocks in the other direction from the school district headquarters, four National Guard members are wielding snow shovels. They scoop and hack and ax and throw, working their way though about 50-feet of what snow aficionados call Cascade concrete. They’re trying to clear a path from the street to the front door of a home.

An elderly man contacted the city, asking for help. “Thank you gentlemen,” he said, as he watched, smoking a cigarette.

"Do you have heat? Enough food?"

The National Guard is not really here to shovel. They’re doing welfare checks. About two dozen soldiers are going door-to-door, to people who asked for help, but also just visiting homes that look like they could use a check-in.

They knock, ask if everyone is doing OK. Are people warm, do they have enough food? They could be here up to a week.

“Their primary mission isn’t to shovel driveways, it’s to make sure people are safe,” said Capt. Luis Torres, of the Washington Army National Guard.

On Front Street, downtown Leavenworth’s main drag, visitors are trickling back out. Pedestrians are shuffling warily along the slick pavement. Those trapped here over the weekend, after the storm closed all of Washington’s mountain passes — the first time that’s happened in recent memory — have cleared out.

LiterateHiker 9 Jan 11

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K007 Level 3 Jan 11, 2022

Visited the town many times along with Sleeping Lady resort. The first time we went to Mt. Baker there was a Mountaineers lodge. Outside, some 8-10' up in a tree was a shovel. Before the lodge was upgraded the snow would be up to the shovel and to get access to the lodge one would have to shovel down to get to the front door. The snow in that area is crazy.


I heard there was a glacier in OR. that melted completely, maybe they would take some. Just a thought.


Lathrop Glacier, the southernmost glacier on Oregon's Mt. Thielsen has melted completely away in the past 10 years.


I was talking to a right wing person at our workplace about all this today and he thinks it's all perfectly normal.


I loved Leavenworth when we visited. Since I had been in Germany I loved the feel of the city. But yeah, I was there in summer, no way I'd want to be there in winter.

I love Germany city

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