When employees at Olympic National Park returned to work after last week’s government shutdown, they had a lot to deal with. A lot of wind and a lot of snow.

The park, located in Washington state’s Olympic Mountains, was blasted by multiple coastal storms. More significant, though, were the strong winds, which created snow drifts taller than a two-story house.

“High winds and heavy snow over the past week resulted in snow drifts 14 feet high in the parking lot,” the park posted on its Facebook page Thursday. “There is currently 9 feet of snow at the snow stake.”


A 14-foot snow drift next to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park on Jan. 25. (Olympic National Park/National Park Service)

Hurricane Ridge Road was blasted by 25-mph winds on Saturday, which created whiteout conditions at the visitor center. The road winds up the terrain from sea level in Port Angeles, Wash., to more than 5,200 feet.

“Winds like these transport snow onto the road and parking lot just as fast as our road crew can clear it,” the park said. “Additionally, visibility is compromised and functioning outside is difficult with substantial winter clothing (goggles, waterproof jacket with hood, waterproof pants, face mask, warm hat, etc) and impossible without.”

The Olympic National Park rangers summed up the feeling succinctly, saying “it is like being sand blasted.”