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December 27, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Weekend snow tough on mountain drivers, great for skiers

Snoqualmie Pass as of 10 a.m. Saturday December 27.

Update at 4:35 p.m.:  While the Summit at Snoqualmie did get a fair amount of snow Saturday morning, accumulation was very light through the rest of the day. The resort says it will announce its decision by 7 a.m. Sunday on whether to open Summit West for limited operations.

“Hopefully it comes in strong the rest of the night,” the website said.

Original post: A winter storm warning remained in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday as a weather system moved across the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, bringing heavy snow to the Cascades.

That could mean good news for skiers eagerly awaiting slope time, but drivers returning home after the holidays should be ready for slow travel due to snow-covered roads and reduced visibility at times, according to the National Weather Service.

Between 12 and 20 inches of snow is expected by late Saturday night at all of the Cascades passes, including Stevens and Snoqualmie, meteorologist Josh Smith said.

Crystal Mountain, Mount Baker and Mount Rainier will see the same levels, he said.

According to a snow report for the Summit at Snoqualmie, all trails remained closed Saturday, but the report said to “stay tuned for possible opening announcement later today.”

“As of 5 a.m. the snow has been falling and accumulating, we expect it to continue,” the website said. “If it does we’ll know for sure if Summit West can open for limited operation on Sunday.”

Stevens Pass had a limited opening Saturday and that evening was to have its first night skiing of the season, with some lifts open until 10 p.m. As long as snowfall continues, night skiing will be available through Jan. 5, the website said.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said it was ready for the snow, with extra employees and big rigs prepared to clear highway accumulations.

Usually WSDOT has nine or 10 people driving snowplows, graders and blowers to continually keep Snoqualmie Pass clear of snow. But with this weekend’s storm warning, a crew of 15 was working round the clock to keep the roadways open, WSDOT spokeswoman Summer Derrey said.

“It looks fine in Seattle and in Yakima right now,” she said. “But in the pass it is winter.”

Derrey suggests waiting until Sunday to drive over any of the passes if that is an option for people.  If not, she recommends visiting WSDOT’s winter preparedness website.

“When you go up to the pass, you need to bring chains with you and be prepared for the conditions,” she said. “Just think about what you would need if you do have to chain up — you would need boots and gloves, and water, even.”

It should be a mostly rainy day in the Seattle area on Saturday, with highs near 46 degrees, according to the weather service.

There is a chance of snow Sunday night, but the snow could be mixed with rain, and little or no accumulation is expected.

Next week is predicted to start out cool and dry in the Puget Sound area, with low temperatures dipping into the 20s on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Comments | Topics: cascades, ski resorts, snow

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