A strong cold front brought 5 to 14 inches of snow to the Cascades and slammed Mount Baker Ski Area with one of the strongest wind storms ever recorded there.

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While rain and wind storms created havoc in the lowlands, it appears the mountainsides for the most part escaped the deluge and received a good amount of snow.

A strong cold front brought 5 to 14 inches of snow to the Cascades, and gusty winds along with light snow showers were expected to stick around through Thursday.

The Mount Baker Ski Area got hit hardest, closing Thursday in the midst of one of the strongest wind storms ever recorded there. Winds topped out at 109 mph on the summit of Pan Dome, with a consistent 60 to 80 mph range at the Heather Meadows Base Area.

“We’re hunkered down, and it looks like this wind storm will pass over us quickly, and luckily we escaped without any damage,” said Gwyn Howat, the Mount Baker Ski Area operations manager.

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Howat says the outlook is positive for Friday powder seekers as another 10 to 12 inches of snow is expected on top of the 12 inches the area received Thursday.

A gust of 101 mph was recorded on the summit at Crystal Mountain Resort, but it remained open Thursday despite winds howling up to 30 to 40 mph.

A snowboarders catches air at Whistler-Blackcomb Resort.
A snowboarders catches air at Whistler-Blackcomb Resort. Photo courtesy of Logan Swayze at Coast Mountain Photography and Whistler-Blackcomb Resort.

Expect a brief lull heading into Friday before another series of storms regroups and pushes across the Pacific Northwest through early next week. The freezing level will remain low – 2,000 to 4,000 feet – so any ski-area precipitation will come in the form of snow through Monday.

With the change to daylight-saving time coming Sunday, it may seem like spring has finally sprung, but Mother Nature will prove otherwise. The long-range weather forecast calls for a cool and wet pattern through this month.

That is wonderful news for skiers and snowboarders who should find ample snow coverage at resorts that plan to keep the chairlifts running well into next month. Crystal Mountain Resort has already announced it plans to stay open daily until April 17.

Expected snowfall totals through Sunday:

  • Mount Baker, 12-25 inches of new snow (500.5 inches for the season).
  • Summit at Snoqualmie, 4-7 (359).
  • Stevens Pass, 3-5 (362).
  • Crystal Mountain, 9-15 (450).
  • White Pass, 5-9 (307-365).
  • Whistler-Blackcomb, 1-3 (417).
  • Mount Bachelor, 6-10 (381.5-391).
Smiling faces like skier Holly Sato of Seattle will be common place for days to come on the mountains as more snow is expected to fall.
Smiling faces like skier Holly Sato of Seattle will be common place for days to come on the mountains as more snow is expected to fall.

At Mount Rainier National Park the road to Paradise at Longmire has extended hours (weather conditions permitting) on weekends from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. with uphill gate closing at 8 p.m. On weekdays the road is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and uphill gate closing at 5 p.m. The road to Paradise was open Thursday with traction tires advised, and all vehicles are required to carry tire chains

The snow-play sliding hill at Paradise will remain open through March 27 as conditions allow. Ranger-guided 1.8-mile snowshoe walks are available Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through March 27 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. outside of the Jackson Visitor Center. Winter backcountry, camping is available with a permit required. Be sure to check the website for road conditions and restrictions before heading up. Through Thursday, Paradise was covered with 113.9 inches of snow. For updates, go to www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm.

Tyler Meyers of Tacoma digs out his car at Crystal Mountain parking lot. Skiing has been tremendous this winter with lots of powder every day. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Tyler Meyers of Tacoma digs out his car at Crystal Mountain parking lot. Skiing has been tremendous this winter with lots of powder every day. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

More snow updates:

Oregon: Mount Bachelor, 106-144 inch base; Timberline, 123; Mount Hood Meadows, 105-208; Mount Ashland, 71-121; Willamette Pass, 38-100; and Mount Hood Ski Bowl, 36-42. Cooper Spur, 15, reopens this weekend.

Idaho: Sun Valley, 36-62; Brundage, 59-101; Tamarack, 30-83; Schweitzer, 51-100; Lookout Pass, 62-103; Bogus Basin, 49; Pebble Creek, 20-58; and Silver Mountain, 60-70.

Montana: Whitefish Mountain Resort is open daily, with 103-inch base, and 276 inches this season. A total of 105 trails are open. It was snowing is heavily Thursday, but the skiing on the North Side and at higher elevations should be great. Conditions are variable and a little sloppy on the lower hillsides.

British Columbia: Whistler-Blackcomb, 133; Cypress, 153; Mount Washington, 119-166; Whitewater, 120-121; Manning Park, 74-106; Big White, 115; Revelstoke, 28-107; Fernie, 53-128; Mount Seymour, 66-142; Red Mountain, 111; Grouse Mountain, 76-118; Kicking Horse, 37-77; Apex, 99; Silver Star, 68-94; Sun Peaks, 83-96; Panorama, 22-56; and Kimberley, 45.

Latest snow and lift reports:

Which ski areas are open and closed:


Resort

Hours

Base


Summit West, Snoqualmie Open: Sat-Sun: 9am-5pm; closed Thu-Fri and Mon-March 18 73 inches

Summit Central, Snoqualmie Open: Thu-Sat and Mon-March 18: 9am-10pm; Sun: 9am-5pm 73 inches

Summit East, Snoqualmie Open: Sat-Sun: 9am-4pm; closed Thu-Fri and Mon-March 18 73 inches

Nordic Center, Snoqualmie Open: Sat-Sun: 9am-3pm; closed Mon-March 18. Tubing center Fri-Sun: 9am-5pm; closed Mon-March 18 73 inches

Alpental, Snoqualmie Open: Thu-Fri: 9am-10pm; Sat-Sun and Tue-March 18: 9am-4pm; closed Mon 101-143 inches

Mount Baker Ski Area Open daily: 9am-3:30pm; NOTE: Closed Thursday due to high winds 163-198 inches

Crystal Mountain Open daily: 9am-4pm 75-126 inches

Stevens Pass Open: Thu and Mon-March 17: 9am-4pm; Fri-Sat: 9am-10pm; Sun: 9am-6pm 85-119 inches

White Pass Open daily: 8:45am-4pm; nordic center is open Thu-Sun 78-118 inches

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Open: Thu-Sun: 9am-4pm; Mon-Tue: To be determined; closed Wed-Thu 56-74 inches

49° North Mountain Open: Fri-Sun and Mon-Tue: 9am-4pm; closed Wed-Thu 82-127 inches

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Open: Fri-Sat and Wed: 9am-9:30pm; Sun: 9am-4pm; closed Mon-Tue 44-89 inches

Ski Bluewood Open: Fri-Sun and Thu: 9am-4pm; closed Mon-Wed 65-93 inches

Whistler-Blackcomb Open daily: 8:30am-3pm 133 inches

Mt. Bachelor Open daily: 9am-4pm 106-144 inches

Leavenworth Winter Sports Club Open: Icicle River trail open, other trails closed; ski hill and tubing closed for season 14 inches

Methow Trails Open daily: 15 trails groomed March 9-10 at Mazama; 11 at Rendezvous; five at Sun Mountain; and eight at Winthrop 30 inches
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