Many states struggle with snow, rain, floods

A winter storm that blanketed Washington state with snow and forced the cancellation of more than 200 flights moved south into Oregon as meteorologists warned Saturday that more was on the way.

In Seattle, where heavy snowfall is a rarity, residents cleared out grocery store shelves and left work early Friday afternoon as the storm arrived. On Saturday, many got out ski gear and sleds and took to neighborhood hills, or even streets that were too steep for cars to navigate.

More than a foot of snow was recorded in some areas, including on the Olympic Peninsula. In central Washington, blowing snow and drifts 3 to 4 feet deep forced the closure of Route 2 and Interstate 90. Grant County Sheriff’s Office warned that snow drifts were blocking many roads.

The National Weather Service said additional snow could fall Saturday, and another storm was expected early next week.

In Portland, Ore., a tanker truck slid into an SUV on an interchange between Interstates 5 and 84 on Saturday, blocking the ramp for hours.

Other parts of the country also were wrestling with difficult weather. Residents of Hawaii were bracing for coastal flooding amid extreme surf predictions.

In California, more than 120 visitors and staff members were rescued Thursday after being trapped by up to 7 feet of snow in a Sierra Nevada resort for five days. Another winter storm was on the way to the region.

Elsewhere, more than 148,000 customers lost power in Michigan following days of freezing rain. The Consumers Energy utility said power would be restored by late Sunday.

— Associated Press

Average tax refund down by 8.4 percent

The average federal tax refund is down 8.4 percent this year compared with the same week in 2018, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. The average refund fell from $2,035 to $1,865.

The statistic offers a glimpse at how the 2017 tax overhaul championed by President Trump and Republicans could impact taxpayers. The law doubled personal exemptions for many individual taxpayers and eliminated or capped itemized deductions for state and local property taxes, charitable gifts, and alimony.

The effects on individual taxpayers were predicted to be mixed. Morgan Stanley estimates refunds will be about 26 percent higher this year than in 2018, because many taxpayers withheld too much from their paychecks last year.

The new IRS data is from a small portion of taxpayers. Tax filing season runs through April 15.It also found that while the refund checks have gotten smaller, the proportion of tax filers getting refunds has held steady. It was 34.4 percent in 2018, and this year it was 35.1 percent.

In 2018, about 70 percent of taxpayers received refunds of about $3,000 on average.

— Todd Frankel

S.C. honors black World War II veteran: A South Carolina town has honored the memory of a black World War II veteran whose 1946 beating at the hands of a white police chief left him permanently blind and helped spur President Harry Truman's drive to integrate the U.S. military. Guests and members of Sgt. Isaac Woodard's family gathered Saturday for a private ceremony before the unveiling of the "Blinding of Isaac Woodard" historical marker.

— Associated Press