Update as of 12:12 p.m.: The avalanche forecast has been bumped up to extreme in the West Cascades, which is a rare warning. Forecasters said heavy rains are increasing the risk of slides in areas like Paradise, Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker.
“These are dangerous conditions and all avalanche terrain should be avoided in this area,” according to the Northwest Avalanche Center.
Update as of 9:01 a.m.: WSDOT says Snoqualmie Pass and White Pass will remain closed Thursday. Crews will evaluate conditions at 4 p.m. and determine when they might reopen.
Initial post: High avalanche danger has closed three mountain passes, and the rest of the week looks to remain stormy.
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Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and White Pass shut down late Wednesday and were still closed Thursday. The state Department of Transportation said it will re-evaluate conditions by 10 a.m.
Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass is closed from milepost 34 at North Bend to milepost 71 near Easton.
A WSDOT camera showed snow piled high and reported freezing rain in the area. Officials said several snow slides occurred Wednesday night, prompting the closure.
On Highway 2 over Stevens Pass, the closure starts at milepost 85 at Coles Corner and expends to milepost 99 at the west end of Leavenworth.
A detour is available using Chumstick Highway and state Route 207, although no vehicles weighing more than 26,000 gross weight are permitted.
There is no estimated time for reopening.
In light of the closure, Stevens Pass Ski Resort announced early Thursday they would not open for the day.
Troopers in the area said Wednesday they responded to 51 crashes on Hwy 2 in a seven-hour span.
To the south, westbound traffic on Highway 12 over White Pass is stopped at milepost 183 near Oak Creek. Eastbound traffic is stopped near milepost 138 near state Route 123. A snow slide near Wild Cat Creek prompted that closure.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Cascades through Thursday morning.
Snoqualmie Pass was forecast to get ice and another 2 to 5 inches of snow, bringing the storm total to nearly 15 inches. Snow and freezing rain were expected to taper off by 10 a.m.
An avalanche warning was also issued throughout the Pacific Northwest as heavy snow was weakened by rain and causing loose wet slides.
Mount Rainier National Park said the gate to Paradise would stay closed Thursday due to high avalanche danger. Visitors can still get to Longmire.
In the lowlands, any lingering powder on the ground was washed away by heavy rains, which are expected to continue through Friday and possibly Saturday.
Strong winds were forecast for Thursday with gusts up to 38 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures remain in the low 50s.
The Weather Service also issued a flood watch for Pierce, Thurston, King, Mason and Lewis counties through Friday night.
Forecasters said the snow level will drop from 6,500 feet to nearly 3,500 feet Thursday night and leftover lowland snow will contribute to the runoff.
“This could be enough rain to drive some rivers above minor flood stage,” according to the warning.
Chehalis, White, Newaukum and Skookumchuck rivers are expected to be the most impacted.
A coastal flood advisory also warns that Puget Sound and Hood Canal, among others, could be affected around high tide and possibly produce minor flooding on the shoreline early Thursday.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653