Heavy snow in the Cascades is common this time of year, but forecasters were surprised by sudden, heavy bursts of snow.
Six inches of snow fell from 1-3 p.m. Thursday at Snoqualmie Pass and 8 inches fell between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Stevens Pass.
That made driving through the highway passes tough.
“Snow plows can’t keep up with that,” said meteorologist Andy Haner in the Seattle National Weather Service office.
Twenty-four hour totals ending at 5 a.m. Friday were 14 inches at Snoqualmie Pass, 21 inches at Stevens Pass and Mount Baker, and 18 inches at Paradise on Mount Rainier.
Total snowfall so far this year at Mount Baker is 102 inches, Haner said.
Snow also fell Friday in the eastern third of the state, including Spokane. But a “rain shadow” kept the Columbia Basin, including Moses Lake, in the clear.
The snow should taper off for a drier weekend across Washington, Haner said Friday. More rain and mountain snow are forecast to move in to Western Washington on Sunday afternoon and spread east by evening.
The heavy snow Thursday afternoon closed eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass for a time. Chains were required for a spell Friday morning, even on four-wheel drive cars, on the state’s main east-west highway. The Transportation Department changed that to a traction tire advisory for Snoqualmie Pass, as well as for Stephens and White passes. Big rigs still had to chain up, and oversize loads were prohibited until the roadways cleared.
The snow is good news to skiers and snowboarders and Cascade ski resorts.
White Pass ski resort opened Friday. Stevens, Mount Baker and Crystal Mountain were already open but waiting for fresh snow. The most convenient resort to Seattle, the Summit at Snoqualmie, said that Summit West would open this weekend.
“It’s about the right time for that to happen,” Haner said.