SEATTLE – A winter snowstorm dropped several inches of snow in the mountain passes Wednesday before tapering off Thursday morning. It's the first sign of a weekend of snow that could make its way to Puget Sound by Sunday.
The heavy snowfall at Snoqualmie Pass created a big mess. The westbound lanes were shut down for a couple of hours because too many vehicles were getting stuck. Traction tires were required late Wednesday night on Snoqualmie Pass. Traction tires were advised at Stevens and White passes.
KING 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Renner said most areas of the mountains would accumulate 8 to 14-inches by Thursday morning. Snow levels are expected to remain at about 2,000 feet through Friday, but there could be snow and rain mixed over the Northern Olympic Peninsula, the San Juans and Whatcom and Skagit Counties.
Renner says on Sunday evening and Monday morning, there is a chance that some of the higher hills near Puget Sound will see snow. The snow level could reach near sea level sometime Monday. Temperatures could fall to the mid-30s Monday. Check the latest forecast
Driving conditions across all of the passes could be difficult through the next several days, and there's always the possibility of avalanche control, which could close the passes off and on. Snoqualmie Pass was supposed to be a better bet than Stevens Pass, but it was a mess. Check your traffic
All this talk of mountain snow is fantastic for local ski areas, which are trying to be the first to open for the season. Despite the heavy snow, ski areas at Snoqualmie Pass were still at least a couple of weeks from opening. Some bare patches could still be seen Wednesday. Still, ski operators are hopeful to open by Thanksgiving.
Stevens Pass operators expect two feet of snow by Friday, only a foot shy of what they need to open. Both Mount Baker Ski Area and Crystal Mountain say they could open this weekend.
Tire stores say they are bracing for a busy week. The first things likely to sell out are chains. If you have snow tires, check to make sure they are still going to be good for this season, before the snow arrives.
Cayuse and Chinook passes have closed for the winter, which typically happens this time of year. Check mountain pass reports