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Sunshine expected to replace rain and high winds in Western Washington

Sam Gonzalez, 9th grader in the Industrial, Design, Engineering, Art Program in the Tacoma School of the Arts, braces herself from a gust of wind while walking on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.
Sam Gonzalez, 9th grader in the Industrial, Design, Engineering, Art Program in the Tacoma School of the Arts, braces herself from a gust of wind while walking on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. Staff photographer

High winds and rain eased off Friday, allowing crews to reopen three Western Washington mountain passes and clear some roadways covered by mudslides.

Continuing the positive news, a chance of rain is possible Saturday (Feb. 11) but sunshine is expected to make an appearance by the afternoon.

Sun dominates the forecast until the end of next week, when rain comes back.

On Friday, the avalanche danger decreased, with the Northwest Avalanche Center dropping its warning from “extreme” (the highest) to “considerable.”

Crews with the state Department of Transportation worked around the clock since Wednesday night, when three mountain passes shut down because of avalanche danger and snow slides.

By 3 p.m. Friday, Snoqualmie, Stevens and White passes were open again, even though the roads still were slushy and multiple collisions caused backups.

The last time all three passes were closed at the same time was February 2008.

The passing storm took a toll on the region.

Amtrak was shut down between Everett and Portland after several landslides along the route, prompting BNSF Railway to place a moratorium on the tracks until Saturday.

A mudslide on state Route 7 near Mineral closed the road in both directions. There was no estimate Friday for when the road will reopen.

A landslide in Maple Valley destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of several nearby houses.

A stretch of East Pioneer Way in Puyallup opened Friday afternoon after a mudslide shut it down the day before.

The National Weather Service warned the threat of landslides will remain for several days after heavy rains saturated the soil across Western Washington.

Rains were definitely heavy at times.

Tacoma received 1.61 inches over the last three days, according to the Weather Service.

Other rain totals for the same time frame include 1.17 inches in Lakewood, 1.32 inches in Gig Harbor, 1.54 inches in Puyallup, 1.68 inches in Parkland, 2.51 inches at Longmire and 5.83 inches in one area of Crystal Mountain.

Winds were strong as well, with the highest gusts hitting at Crystal Mountain (83 miles per hour) and White Pass (82 mph).

Gusts reached 68 mph at Mount Baker, 43 mph at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 43 mph at Sea-Tac Airport and 53 mph at Snoqualmie Pass.

Steady winds of about 20 mph were expected to last through Friday night, but a wind advisory and flood watch expired in the afternoon.

A flood watch remained for the Chehalis River in Chehalis through Saturday morning.

Staff writer Craig Sailor contributed to this report.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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