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Seattle Ice Storm Leaves 1 Dead, 180,000-Plus Without Power

Comstock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Just as Seattle was beginning to recover from the freak snowstorm that hit Wednesday, a treacherous ice storm swept the Pacific Northwest Thursday, coating the already snow-covered area with a layer of ice and contributing to at least one death.

After western Washington was hit hard Wednesday, Seattle almost beat its yearly average of 5.9 inches of snow in one day, with a little more than 5 inches of snow in total.

Other areas experienced even more snow. The state capital of Olympia got more than 12 inches while the Cascades saw several feet of snow.

While digging out, the state was hit a day later with a layer of ice between one-quarter and one-inch thick, according to Accuweather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

“It takes a shallow layer of cold air sitting around the ground to set up a situation for freezing rain,”  Sosnowski said. “On Wednesday, the cold air wasn’t thick enough so you weren’t getting that ice. But then the layer of cold air shallowed and created freezing rain.”

The layer of ice encrusted power lines and trees, causing major outages and downed trees.

Puget Sound Energy reported more than 180,000 homes without power because of the weight of the ice on top of the snow and falling trees.

Seattle-Tacoma Airport was forced to close early Thursday morning because of a sheet of ice that covered the runway. One of the three runways reopened later Thursday but many flights were delayed or canceled.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregorie declared a winter storm emergency, which authorizes the use of the National Guard and, if needed, coordination of state agencies to help local jurisdictions during the storm.

Other areas in the Pacific Northwest also saw severe weather. Oregon is experiencing heavy rain and gusty wind. There have been multiple reports of road washouts and landslides.

The area can expect to continue to see severe weather over the weekend. Several storms are headed for the area but with warmer air, they can expect to see mostly rain.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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