Snow has raised avalanche danger throughout the mountains, leading to pass closures. Meanwhile, Seattle is getting soaked, but things could clear up this weekend.
Another round of heavy snow pummeled the Cascades early Thursday, raising avalanche danger throughout the mountains and closing mountain-pass highways.
National Weather Service meteorologist Doug McDonnal said Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, Paradise at Mount Rainier and the Crystal Ski Area all got about 6 to 11 inches of snow overnight as a warm front passed through the mountains and met cold easterly winds.
“It’s quite heavy, wet snow,” McDonnal said. “With regard to avalanche, that’s where the danger is right now. You’ve got this wet, heavy snow and rain falling on top of the existing snowpack.”
The Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) issued an avalanche warning Thursday, advising skiers and snowshoers to avoid backcountry travel.
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Dennis D’Amico, an avalanche meteorologist at NWAC, said the storm system came in stronger than forecasters expected and left lots of unstable snow that could slide.
“It’s kind of a classic avalanche setup, which is a bunch of snow with a warming trend and with heavier snow on top,” D’Amico said. “It creates an unstable profile for avalanches,” he said.
McDonnal said the snow will turn to rain sometime Thursday after the cold air is “scoured out of the passes.”
In Seattle, he said, there’s one word for conditions: Wet.
“In the Seattle area, we’ve had basically anywhere from a third to two-thirds of an inch rain overnight and we’re going to get another probably half- to an inch of rain for the rest of today and tonight,” he said.
Flooding is not forecast, McDonnal said, but with so much precipitation, small landslides are possible.
The warm front will slowly grind its way through Seattle, and rain will begin to taper off Friday. Another system will push by south of Seattle on Saturday, but there’s a chance of sun on Sunday and Monday, McDonnal said.