Yet another weather system pushed into Western Washington Sunday morning, continuing the spring soaking and complicating travel over the mountain passes, which have received more than a foot of new snow since Saturday.
The National Weather Service in Seattle said an oncoming front would deliver scattered showers across much of the region Sunday morning, with showers lingering into the afternoon — just in time to make way for yet another weather system overnight into Monday. Some snow has been mixed in with the precipitation, with the snow level falling below 1,000 feet. Lowland accumulations of up to an inch were possible, though relative warming in the afternoon should result in a return to just rain.
Conditions on the mountain pass roadways changed throughout the day, beginning with a tough slog Sunday morning, followed by some relief on Stevens Pass, where snow fall diminished and the roadway was mostly bare and wet by the afternoon. But substantial snow continued to fall most of the day on Snoqualmie Pass.
As of midafternoon, traffic on Interstate 90 over the pass was heavy in both directions and there was snow and slush on the roadway.
I-90 was closed for about five hours Saturday evening due to bad weather and multiple traffic collisions. The same was true for U.S. Highway 2 over Stevens Pass, which reopened late Saturday after a similar closure.
Westbound I-90 was reopened Saturday at 9 p.m., but more snow fell overnight. It was snowing Sunday morning and some 17 inches of new snow had fallen since Saturday.
Stevens Pass saw 14 inches of new accumulation since Saturday.
Complicating matters for mountain drivers: By state law, studded tires must be removed from vehicles in Washington by the end of March.
The mountain conditions led Mount Rainier National Park rangers to close the gate to Paradise at Longmire. The road to Longmire was open, with all vehicles required to carry tire chains.
Higher up Mt. Rainier, the temperature was 0 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind gusts to 83 miles per hour making it feel as cold as -37 degrees. “Even by winter standards, these would be rather extreme conditions at Camp Muir,” the NWS said on Twitter.
The unseasonable cold will be felt in the lowlands, too, where high temperatures Sunday were in the low- to mid-40s.
There’s little sign of warming or drying in the long-term forecast.
The weather system arriving Sunday evening into Monday appears to be headed farther south, bringing a chance of more substantial snow in the lowlands south of Puget Sound and the central Washington coast, the NWS said in its Sunday morning forecast update.
The winter-like pattern is expected to continue with a series of weather systems bringing precipitation and persistent colder-than-normal temperatures across the region through the work week.