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Washington State Walloped by Rare Snow Storm

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Schools were closed across Washington state Wednesday as a freak snowstorm knocked out power and blocked major roads.

The state capital of Olympia got 12 inches of snow in a matter of hours Wednesday morning, according to Accuweather meteorologist Dave Samuhel, while Seattle got five inches.

To illustrate what a wallop this is for the region, Seattle typically sees about 5.9 inches of snow for the entire year.

The five inches Seattle got Wednesday was a bit of relief since much more was predicted for the city, but it still presented major challenges for a city with plenty of steep hills and few snow plows.

“This is a city with a limited number of plows and a population that is not used to driving in the snow,” Scott Sistek, a meteorologist for, said.

The worst snowstorm Seattle has seen was in 1974 when 9.8 inches of snow fell.

KOMO-TV, the ABC News affiliate in Seattle, reported major road closures and power outages in the Washington area.  Schools were closed across the state.

Elsewhere, in Portland, Ore., the snow quickly turned to rain, but it came with a warning of hurricane force winds for the coast, with winds forecast to gust close to 100 mph and seas to build to 35 feet.

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