Heavy snowfall has stopped most work at the Hanford Site in Eastern Washington state. Day, swing, and graveyard shifts have been canceled Monday for the third successive day for workers not designated essential to safety or security. The cancellations started with the swing and graveyard shifts Friday night.
By Saturday, key highways leading to the site were closed as the wind blew snow drifts across roadways. Essential workers were told to enter and exit only at the Wye Barricade just north of Richland because of road closures elsewhere. The Yakima Barricade reopened Sunday afternoon.
In an unusual move, essential workers were told starting Saturday night and continuing into Monday to check with managers before leaving Hanford or reporting to the site. Some essential workers were staying on-site longer to reduce commutes in dangerous driving conditions.
The Waste Treatment Plant construction site in central Hanford was closed at about 5 p.m. Saturday, with even essential personnel told not to report there without manager approval. Regular shifts for construction and startup crews had already been canceled through the weekend.
The Hanford Meteorology Service was not reporting snow totals on the weekend, but to the south of the site in the Tri-Cities about 6 inches fell from early Saturday to early Sunday and snow had drifted much deeper in many areas. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the Yakima Valley area to the west of Hanford as up to 10 inches of snow and strong winds were forecast Saturday into Sunday morning.