A storm system Saturday could bring new problems throughout Western Washington, even as the region is still dealing with issues from earlier storms.
A series of washouts on both sides of White Pass present some of the longer-term difficulties created by this week’s storms and flooding — and another storm system expected Saturday could bring an onslaught of new problems around Western Washington.
No timetable has been set for repairing three large washouts and a rockslide that have made it impossible to get to the White Pass Ski Area from either the east or west side of the state — even as deep snow has been accumulating on ski runs.
“It is no fun when we’ve got such great conditions at the hillsides,” said ski area spokeswoman Kathleen Goyette.
Another one to two feet of snow is expected in the Cascades on Saturday, according to a winter storm warning from the Weather Service.
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Drivers are warned to expect difficult conditions through Sunday morning and should check for updates on pass conditions. On Friday afternoon, highways across Stevens and Snoqualmie passes were bare and wet.
Snow could come as low as 1,500 feet Saturday night, possibly reaching the Cascade foothills. But snow is not likely in the Puget Sound lowlands, where the chance of rain is 100 percent, according to the Weather Service.
In the lowlands of Western Washington, up to 1.5 inches of rain Saturday is expected to renew the threat of mudslides in many locations where soils and hillsides have had little time to dry out after the deluge of midweek.
Saturday’s weather system is expected to arrive with a blast of wind that could bring down trees and create power outages. Winds along the Washington Coast and in Whatcom County could reach 25 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.
In Cowlitz County, state Transportation Department (WSDOT) crews hope to finish by Sunday clearing the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 hit by a landslide. The highway was partially reopened Thursday evening, hours after Gov. Jay Inslee visited the site.
The governor has declared a state of emergency due to the floods. The governor’s proclamation can be used to activate the Washington National Guard and serve as an initial step to request federal resources. As a result, the Federal Highway Administration awarded the state $1 million to help restore federal roadways.
In the Seattle area, a rainy Saturday and showery Sunday are forecast, followed by a 50 percent chance of showers Monday and a partly sunny Tuesday.