Winter weather | KNKX

Winter weather

Roads in a large swath of central and eastern Washington and Oregon have been devastated by melting snow and heavy rain. The flood of potholes and washouts has stalled heavy trucks carrying wheat, cattle and equipment.

Northwest farmers are getting a bit antsy to start spring prep. But they are tallying up damage from a harsh winter -- and they’re worried it’s not over yet.

In Washington and Oregon, head-high piles of snow are starting to melt out east of the Cascades. But even Northwest cities that are used to clearing abundant snow are tallying up extra costs this winter.

A major bottleneck in Ellensburg and other central Washington towns is loosening up as two of the main Cascade mountain highway passes reopened Friday. Snow slides and danger of avalanche forced the unusual closure of White, Stevens and Snoqualmie passes all at once.

The three busiest mountain highway passes in the Washington Cascades remain closed at this hour due to high avalanche danger. The Washington Department of Transportation said Snoqualmie Pass may open Thursday night. The latest on White Pass is that it will remain closed overnight.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A good weekend for getting outdoors and enjoying nature lies ahead, with mild temps  and mostly dry conditions in the Northwest, and sun peeking through the clouds.

“It’ll be very nice, said knkx weather expert Cliff Mass on Friday morning. “A ridge of high pressure is building over us as I speak.”

He says the low clouds that are hanging around in places such as the South Sound will give way as the day progresses.

“It will be partly sunny by the afternoon, temperatures getting up into the upper 40s to around 50. So, really decent day,” Mass said.

Old Man Winter has struck again east of the Cascades. Residents woke up Wednesday to find the deep snow covering the area frosted by an ice storm.

In the Tri-Cities, children have had nearly a dozen snow days and late-start days this winter. Piled on with airport, mountain pass and work closures -- many parents are feeling quite trapped.

A major storm east of the Cascades has dumped snow and closed businesses and schools Monday. The weather has also been a factor in several accidents and deaths. Bend, Oregon, has nearly three feet of snow in some places.

Cascade Ski Areas Enjoy Lots of Snow

Jan 5, 2017

The snowy weather is keeping ski areas busy so far this season. National Weather Service meteorologist Jeremiah Pyle says, there's more to come.

"It looks like the snow pattern for the mountains will continue. So we're expecting quite a bit more this weekend and then we've got several systems coming through next week that look like they bring substantial snow to the mountains as well,” said Pyle.

While that’s good news for resorts, Pyle says all that snow could prove to be an impediment for motorists driving over mountain passes.

King County has released an app that puts flood warning information at residents' fingertips. The smartphone- and tablet-friendly app displays real-time flooding information on major rivers in the county.

WSDOT

November, which marks the start of flood season in the Northwest, is just around the corner. And the National Weather Service says there is high potential for rivers to burst their banks from now through February.

This winter will bring what is known as a “neutral” weather pattern; we won't see the milder El Niño nor the wetter, windier La Niña this winter. But that hardly means we get a break.

A neutral winter can mean trouble for those who live or work near flood plains in western Washington as it brings the highest number of so-called “Pineapple Express” events during which an atmospheric river forms off the coast. 

dorena-wm photo / Flickr via compfight

The first frost of the season hit the northwest Friday morning on both sides of the mountains, but skies will be sunny for much of the weekend.

Enjoy it while it lasts, since it will turn rainy again on Monday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

It was three, maybe four o'clock in the morning when he first saw them. Grad student Jeff Bowman was on the deck of a ship; he and a University of Washington biology team were on their way back from the North Pole. It was cold outside, the temperature had just dropped, and as the dawn broke, he could see a few, then more, then even more of these little flowery things, growing on the frozen sea.

AP

Forecasters say the latest storm moving across Washington will leave up to 2 feet of new snow in the Cascades by Thursday morning.

Travelers planning on heading across the mountain passes this weekend should plan accordingly. Traction tires or chains are being advised, and in some cases may be required. 

The WSDOT offers these tips to protect yourself and your passengers while driving in snowy/icy conditions: 

The National Weather Service has downgraded a winter weather warning for the Washington Cascades Tuesday night to an advisory.

Heavy rain sets off landslides around region

Nov 19, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning .

The freight train of storms pummeling the Northwest has saturated soils. Some places are not getting enough time between downpours for the water to drain off. Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides.

Jake Ellison / KPLU

Forecasters say the wet and windy weather with mountain snow will continue this week in Washington, but there may be a lull on Thanksgiving Day. The current deluge so far has resulted in a few mudslides, street flooding and a state trooper’s car being smashed.

The National Weather Service says a series of Pacific storms are aiming to hit the Northwest every day or two.

Getting around

The morning commute around Seattle was tough, but the commute home today may be a bit easier.

Plenty of snow in the mountains means it should be a good year for the water supply in Washington.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service says the mountain snowpack as of April 1 — when it typically peaks — is 137 percent of average.

Cliff Mass / UW

A winter storm is bringing another shot of snow to parts of Washington.

The National Weather Service says a Pacific frontal system will hit the coast and northwest interior Tuesday with gusty winds and rain in most of Western Washington.

Mike Danisiewicz / National Park Service

The conditions that led to fatal avalanches in the Washington Cascades could get worse this week. Three expert skiers died near Stevens Pass on Sunday and a snowboarder died in a separate avalanche near Snoqualmie.

Mark Moore is the director of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. He says a crystalline layer of frost prevented new snow from bonding with the bottom layers. He estimates that led to hundreds if not thousands of avalanches in remote areas over the weekend.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

While cities west of the Cascades recover from the ice storm, flooding and mudslides, the Inland Northwest is getting more of what residents have been expecting for a while: a wintry white layer of snow. And forecasters say there's another round on the way.

The Associated Press

Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and University of Washington professor, says the snow storm we woke up to is almost out of gas:

"... amazingly the worst is almost over. In fact, it should really be all over for most of the western side of the Cascades by 1 PM," he said.

Adam DeClercq / Flickr

But not too much. 

"It's not going to be the big snow-storm," says KPLU weather expert, and UW professor, Cliff Mass.

The areas most likely to get a couple inches of snow are the so-called "convergence zone," between north Seattle and Everett, and in the Bellingham area. For everyone else, Mass says it will be "hit and miss" depending on so many factors that it's hard to generalize.

Associated Press

Climate experts have predicted a colder and wetter than normal winter on the way for Washington, thanks to a second year in a row of La Nina’s effects. 

While some people in the area will be happy about a surge in showers, a lot more are probably disappointed or worried.

KOMONews

Heavy rains brought mudslides that covered roads in Pierce County early this morning, including a slide over East Jovita Boulevard in Edgewood. More rain is expected today, along with gusting winds that could topple trees in already soaked earth, according to KOMO News:

Forecasting models put this storm about on par with the one that blew through on March 2 -- enough to perhaps cause a few power outages and knock over a few trees, but we are not expecting a major windstorm.

In Tacoma, a slide brought a tree down over one lane of Schuster Parkway. There were no injuries or cars involved with that slide, and traffic is getting by the area, according to KIRO-TV.

The peak winds are expected this afternoon in the Puget Sound lowlands, with gusts as high as 50 miles per hour in the late afternoon and early evening hours, according to the National Weather Service. 

WSDOT

Updated 9: 21 p.m.

Avalanche danger, heavy snowfall and spun-out vehicles have kept Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass closed for hours as a winter storm buffets the Washington Cascades. Eastbound lanes reopened late this afternoon, and westbound lanes later Monday evening.

Transportation officials closed the pass late Monday morning due to eight inches of snow that had fallen since 6 a.m., plus poor visibility and spinouts.

@Brycej / Twitpic

This statement might surprise you. It sure surprised us. 

Pemco Insurance makes the claim, based on a survey it did of Washington drivers. Most polled (58%)  say they feel 'comfortable' behind the wheel when driving on snowy roads.

WSDOT

This morning's headlines are a roundup of the winter snowstorm and cold temperatures affecting Western Washington communities today:

Updated 8:58 a.m.

Driving Conditions Tough, Dangerous

Stay off the roads if at all possible. That advisory is from state transportation leaders, who are dealing with snow and ice clogged sections of freeways, overpasses, and ramps. While many main arterials are passable, the approaches are tough, especially in south King County, Snohomish, Skagit, Thurston and parts of Pierce County, according to KING-TV:

Drivers stuck on Sahalee Way in Redmond were abandoning their cars. Drivers on southbound Interstate 5 near Sea-Tac were crawling along.

As of 9 a.m., WSDOT cameras show that Thurston and Pierce county roads - including I-5 - are heavily impacted by heavy snow, freezing fog and ice. Accidents have caused backups.

The Olympian's Nate Hulings reports driving conditions are expected to worsen today, as National Weather Service forecasts for Thurston County show accumulations could be significant  through this morning:

Periods of heavy snowfall were expected to continue through this morning, with 2 to 6 inches of snow forecast, meteorologist Carl Cerniglia said.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU News

With frigid temperatures and up to six inches of snow bearing down on the Puget Sound region, transit agencies are getting ready.

The latest forecast says the snow is likely to arrive a little later than previously thought. That means evening commuters may escape the brunt of the blast.

Tom Pearce -- with Snohomish Community Transit -- says its buses are operating on regular routes, for now …

WSDOT

The brunt of an arctic cold front is expected to hit Western Washington this afternoon, bringing wind and 2 to 6 inches of snow.  National Weather Service meteorologist Art Gable says temperatures "will drop below freezing and remain below into Thursday morning." A winter storm warning remains in effect through 10 a.m. Thursday.

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