SEATTLE, DEC. 19 -- Cited as one of the world's "most livable cities" in a recent survey, Seattle today was the nation's "most immobile city" after a storm left as much as 14 inches of snow overnight, paralyzing traffic, closing schools, separating children from parents and temporarily knocking out power to 150,000 homes.

With a forecast of continued low temperatures and perhaps more snow, there was no hope of an immediate meltdown in the city that owns relatively few snowplows or sanding trucks. Snow usually falls in low-lying areas once or twice a year and quickly melts or is washed away by rain.

Across western Washington overnight Tuesday, frustrated drivers simply walked away from vehicles, leaving hundreds abandoned on roads and highways. Anxious or merely chatty residents overloaded phone lines while trying to locate children or compare stories of one of the worst commutes in local memory. Trips that normally take 15 minutes lasted hours.

Thirty-seven schools in King County remained open overnight Tuesday to house about 2,600 children and faculty who could not reach home, officials said. Downtown Seattle hotels were packed with workers who decided not to try reaching suburban homes.

The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, which usually carries about 100,000 cars daily over Lake Washington between Seattle and the suburbs, was closed to all but vehicles with chains because of ice on the roadway.

Thousands of workers who did reach home Tuesday stayed home today, and most schools were closed. Mayor Norm Rice urged employers to give workers at least the morning off. Seattle's many hills made even the shortest trip an icy, risky enterprise.

The storm was pushed by winds that gusted to 60 mph, forcing shutdown of ferry service to some Puget Sound islands and temporary closing of Seattle-Tacoma Airport. No deaths or major injuries were attributed to the storm.

Dick Pratt, a real-estate developer who lives in suburban Redmond, was planning on a one-hour drive home from a business meeting. Then the snow came, and the trip lasted 7 1/2 hours. "I experienced my first, for real, gridlock," said Pratt, who said he felt lucky to own a four-wheel-drive car.

Bob Dunn, an engineer from Redmond, kept calling the Lake Washington School District in an attempt to locate his son, Kyle, 3, whose school bus was hours overdue. Kyle is a student at a school for the learning disabled, and the bus was full of special-education students, some of whom need liquids or medication every few hours.

The bus started the 12-mile trip from school to Dunn's home at 3 p.m. At 8 p.m., Dunn got into his car and tried to find the bus but encountered roads too slick or too congested, he said.

He eventually drove to the district's bus barn, where his son arrived at 10:15 p.m. The children had had no food or water for seven hours. Kyle "was a wreck," Dunn said.

One patient made a 6 a.m. appointment Tuesday with dentist Howard Jensen, who normally keeps early hours. Just as Jensen started working on the patient's mouth, the power went off.

"I got the flashlight, and he held it," Jensen said. "There was enough air left in the compressor to use the drill so we got that {tooth} fixed up. It was incredible, plus I had a waiting room full of people in the dark. I was laughing my head off."