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The words of wisdom for skiers and snowboarders is to hit the hillsides sooner rather than later.

After what seems like an endless winter of snowy fun, it appears soggy, wet weather is in the mix for the next few days. But, before the drastic change occurs we’ll still be in “snowmageddon” mode as a low-pressure system moves across the state Thursday, bringing another 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow.

Then look for a warming trend with the freezing level shooting up – from 500 to 7,000 feet – mainly in the southern Cascades, creating strong southwesterly winds. Snow levels are expected to drop late Friday as rain showers and winds subside.

Plenty of snow covers the hillsides on the summit of Crystal Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort.
Plenty of snow covers the hillsides on the summit of Crystal Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort.

Heading into this weekend it looks like the best conditions will occur in the northern or southern Cascades while those in the middle (sorry Snoqualmie Pass visitors) are going to see mainly rain or rain showers. Then by Monday and Tuesday rainy weather will engulf the entire Cascade region.

Before traveling to the slopes be sure to check the Washington Department of Transportation website for possible road closures. The road to Stevens Pass was temporarily closed for avalanche control work on Thursday morning, and eastbound Interstate 90 was closed at late morning and could remain that way overnight because of avalanche danger. Westbound lanes could close, too; check the website.

Expected snowfall totals through Sunday are: 11 to 21 inches at the Mount Baker Ski Area; 12 to 24 at Stevens Pass Resort; 4 to 6 at Alpental at The Summit at Snoqualmie; 7 to 15 at Crystal Mountain Resort; and 4 to 6 at White Pass Ski Area.

An avalanche warning was issued Thursday in the Cascade backcountry due to rain, snow and wind slabs that could take up to a week to stabilize. Conditions were listed as mostly “high” near and above the tree-line, and “considerable to high” below the tree-line on the Northwest Avalanche Center’s website. The warning doesn’t apply to ski areas where avalanche prevention operations are maintained.

Numerous accidents occurred last Saturday after heavy snowfall led to a snowmobiler fatality near Gallagher Head Lake northeast of Cle Elum; a full burial and recovery in Cedar Creek Drainage just east of Washington Pass; a four- to five-foot triggered wind slab on Mount Herman that fully and partially buried three people at the base of the slide; and a triggered slide on Chair Peak at Alpental resulting in an organized rescue of a skier who suffered a broken leg.

When traveling in the backcountry it is important to ski or ride with a partner(s), and stay in visual contact with each other; let others know of your travel plans; avoid tree wells and keep a safe distance from trees; stay on groomed runs; and avoid unmarked areas in off boundary areas of ski resorts. For more information, go to www.deepsnowsafety.org or http://www.nwac.us/avalanche-forecast/current/.

A pole measures depth at the WSDOT snow study area at Snoqualmie Pass. (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times)
A pole measures depth at the WSDOT snow study area at Snoqualmie Pass. (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times)

The total snowfall this season is 534-plus inches at Mount Baker Ski Area (and that doesn’t include the more than 130 inches of snowfall in the last nine days); 327 inches at the Summit at Snoqualmie; 356 inches at Stevens Pass Resort; 359 inches at Crystal Mountain Resort (more than three feet of snow has fallen since March 1); 391 to 425 inches at White Pass Ski Area; and 359 inches at Whistler-Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia.

The Loup Loup Ski Bowl – located between Twisp and Okanogan on Highway 20 – is open Wednesday, and Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. with a 42-inch base (2 inches new snow). The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area in Olympic National Park is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather conditions permitting.

Inner-tubing or sledding and snowshoeing options are Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park; the Summit at Snoqualmie tubing center; Lake Wenatchee State Park; Leavenworth Winter Sports Club; Hurricane Ridge; Stevens Pass; Lower Gold Creek Basin; Lake Wenatchee State Park; Suncadia Tubing Hill near Cle Elum; Echo Valley; and Sno-Parks at Hyak, Oldham Pass and Lake Wenatchee. Be sure to check with each area before going to make sure they are open.

Ranger-guided guided snowshoe walks are also offered at the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Hurricane Ridge. Snowshoe rentals are available at the Summit at Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass Resort with accessible trails nearby.

Cross-country ski trails were groomed at Lake Wenatchee State Park; Scottish Lakes High Camp; Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park; Mazama; Echo Ridge; Methow Trails; Leavenworth Winter Sports Club; White Pass; Stevens Pass; and Cabin Creek, east of Snoqualmie off I-90.

Enjoy the Beginners’ Cross Country Ski Tour at Crystal Springs Sno-Park, eight miles east of Snoqualmie Summit.
Enjoy the Beginners’ Cross Country Ski Tour at Crystal Springs Sno-Park, eight miles east of Snoqualmie Summit.

In Montana, Whitefish Resort is open daily with a 125-inch base (3 inches new snow), and has 101 trails and 10 lifts open with night skiing offered Friday and Saturday. Big Sky Resort is open daily with a 53- to 79-inch base (trace new snow).

Open daily in British Columbia are Cypress (169-inch base); Whistler-Blackcomb (115); Mount Seymour (148-184); Grouse (98-126); Whitewater (120-122); Mount Washington (75-91); Revelstoke (96); Hudson Bay (42-63); Big White (93); Sun Peaks (72-87); Silver Star (57-83); Kicking Horse (39-82); Fernie (56-119); Panorama (35-57); and Red (28-96).

Open daily in Idaho are Lookout Pass (124-141); Schweitzer (79-119); Tamarack (59-124); Sun Valley (61-123); Brundage Mountain (84-119); Bogus Basin (96-100); Silver (82-94); and Pomerelle (157-169).

Open daily in Oregon are Mount Hood Meadows (145-210); Mount Bachelor (138-168); Mount Ashland (120-180, closed on Thursday); Willamette Pass (75-112); Hoodoo (123); Timberline (187); and Mount Hood Ski Bowl (92-106).

Latest snow and lift reports:

Which ski areas are open and closed:


Resort

Hours

Base


Summit West, Snoqualmie Open: Limited operations 5pm-10pm Thursday; closed Friday and Monday to March 17; 9am-5pm Saturday and Sunday, and March 18-19 (4 to 10 inches new snow) 116 inches

Summit Central, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-10pm Thursday to Saturday, and Monday to March 18; 9am-5pm Sunday, and March 19 (4 to 10 inches new snow) 116 inches

Summit East, Snoqualmie Open: Closed Thursday and Friday, and Monday to March 17; 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday, and March 18-19 (4 to 10 inches new snow) 116 inches

Nordic Center, Snoqualmie Open: Closed Thursday and Friday, and Monday to March 17; 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday, and March 18-19 (4 to 10 inches new snow) 116 inches

Alpental, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-10pm Thursday and Friday; 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday, and Tuesday to March 19; closed Monday (4 to 10 inches new snow) 134-187 inches

Mount Baker Ski Area Open daily: 9am-3:30pm (5 to 10 inches new snow) 185-233 inches

Crystal Mountain Open daily: 9am-4pm (4 to 9 inches new snow) 84-108 inches

Stevens Pass Open daily: 9am-4pm; night skiing until 10 pm Friday and Saturday, and March 17-18; cross-country trails are open Thursday to Sunday (3 to 6 inches new snow) 114-133 inches

White Pass Open daily: 8:45am-4pm; night skiing until 9pm this Saturday only (9 to 15-plus inches new snow) 114-130 inches

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Open: 9am-4pm Thursday to Sunday, and March 16-19; closed Monday to March 15 (4 to 7 inches new snow) 50-53 inches

49° North Mountain Open: 9am-4pm Friday to Tuesday, and March 17-19; closed Wednesday and Thursday, and March 15-16 (4 to 11 inches new snow) 111-177 inches

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Open: 9am-9:30pm Thursday to Saturday; 9am-4pm Sunday, and Wednesday to March 19; closed Monday and Tuesday (1.5 inches new snow) 76-98 inches

Ski Bluewood Open: 9am-4pm Thursday to Sunday; closed Monday to Wednesday (32 inches new snow) 103-119 inches

Whistler-Blackcomb Open daily: 9am-5pm (1 inch new snow) 115 inches

Mt. Bachelor Open daily: 9am-4pm (1 to 2 inches new snow) 138-168 inches

Leavenworth Winter Sports Club Open: Nordic trails are open daily are 8K at Icicle River and 7K at ski hill; ski hill open Friday, Saturday and Sunday (2 inches new snow)
 29 inches

Methow Trails Open daily: All nordic trails open at Sun Mountain, Rendezvous, Winthrop and Mazama (no new snow) 30 inches