While Wednesday's brief, wet April snow may have tried the patience of winter-weary lowlanders, the recent round of snowstorms at higher...

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While Wednesday’s brief, wet April snow may have tried the patience of winter-weary lowlanders, the recent round of snowstorms at higher elevations has been met with smiles.

“Really, it’s January-like conditions, which is really pretty incredible,” said Tiana Enger, marketing director for Crystal Mountain ski resort northeast of Mount Rainier.

The resort has been digging out from 13 feet of snow dumped in March — the biggest March snowfall in at least the past 15 years.

Enger can testify that when it comes to luring skiers into the hills, a big snowstorm is the best kind of advertising. A late start to the season, coupled with lack of new snow in January and February, meant attendance was down 20 percent from last year. But the numbers jumped last month compared with the previous year, she said.

“People have definitely come back up. More than usual in March. I think that’s because we had some pent-up demand,” Enger said.

A string of storms dumped 114 inches of snow at Hyak, on Snoqualmie Pass, according to hyak.net, a Web site that posts snowfall information after each storm. Snow depth on Mount Baker at 143 inches was 42 inches higher Wednesday than a month ago, according to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. Stevens Pass snow depth also grew 42 inches, to 115 inches.

Storm warning

As if to warn that it’s not over, April opened with a storm that brought snow to mountain highways, and even light snow or a mix of rain and snow to the lowlands in parts of Seattle and Tacoma on Wednesday morning.

National Weather Service forecaster Brad Colman said light accumulations of slushy snow were reported at higher elevations, such as Cougar Mountain near Issaquah, but there wasn’t any big accumulation in the lowlands.

The Weather Service has issued a storm warning for 1 to 2 feet of new snow in the central Cascades by Friday morning. It may rain early today, then again turn to snow, Colman said.

In the Cascades, the snow level should be about 3,000 feet today, dropping to 1,500 feet by tonight.

Even the lowlands may see a few wet snowflakes today into Friday morning, but no accumulations, Colman said.

In the Seattle area, the forecast calls for occasional rain showers today, and even a chance of thunderstorms during the afternoon. It should be mostly cloudy with a chance of showers tonight into Friday.

Snow in April isn’t unheard of in this region. Snow fell in mid-April last year in southern Snohomish and northern King counties, the Weather Service said.

April probably will continue the trend of cooler-than-normal weather in Western Washington, according to the National Weather Service. But the weather service doesn’t expect unusual precipitation levels.

Water supplies

The March storms, however, have brought only partial relief to those concerned about summer water supplies.

The mountains that supply water to the south and central Puget Sound regions from Everett to Tacoma have an above-average snowpack, according to a string of federal snowpack sensors.

The Olympic Peninsula snowpack is at just two-thirds of average, as is the Upper Columbia River region around Okanogan County. The North Cascades snowpack is at 77 percent of average.

Low snowpacks can affect salmon throughout the region as they try to survive in streams and rivers during the summer. Eastern Washington farmers in places such as Okanogan County also rely on snowpack for irrigation.

The recent snowstorms brought extra snow to areas that already are having a typical snow year, said Scott Pattee, who tracks water supplies in Washington for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Unfortunately the basins that were behind average, such as the North Cascades and some of the eastern ones, it hasn’t made much of a difference,” he said.

That leaves the city of Seattle with good news and bad: While there appears to be plenty of water, Seattle City Light has hydroelectric dams where snow levels are much lower, in the North Cascades and Northeast Washington. That translates into less power generated.

Seattle City Light earlier forecast $142 million in revenues this year from selling excess power, an estimate that has now dropped to $78 million, said City Light spokeswoman Suzanne Hartman. Between 10 and 20 percent of that drop is tied to the lower snowpack. The remainder is driven by power prices, she said.

Seattle Times reporter Charles E. Brown contributed to this report.

Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or wcornwall@seattletimes.com