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Snoqualmie Pass closed after bad weather causes car crashes

Updated on: 3/8/2019

Image shot during the 2010 Seattle snowstorm. Are we in for more of the same?

The Washington State Department of Transportation decided to close Snoqualmie Pass in both directions after snow and ice on the road caused multiple accidents. The pass was closed on Wednesday evening; the eastbound lanes were reopened several hours later, but the westbound lanes were not reopened until the early hours of the morning.

Chains are required on all vehicles crossing the pass that do not have all wheel drive. The closure is westbound at milepost 106 and eastbound at milepost 46, spanning a stretch of road from Ellensburg to Asahel Curtis.

To check the current status of the pass, visit the Washington State Department of Transportation website. As of Thursday morning, there are no restrictions on the eastbound or westbound lanes in the pass. The department is reporting that the roadway is bare, but wet with slush in some places, and temperatures are close to freezing.

Western Washington braces for stormy weather

Snow may be in the forecast for western Washington, with meteorologists reporting a chance of snowfall even in low-lying, usually temperate Seattle. If snow does fall on the city, it’s not expected until Sunday night. But storms in the surrounding areas may cause other hazardous conditions; meteorologists are warning residents of the area around Mukilteo that the saturated ground may cause landslides around the bluff area.

This has been an unusual year for weather in Washington state. October’s rainfall broke records, with over 10 inches of rain over 25 days of measurable rainfall recorded at a Sea-Tac station (compared to the previous record of 8.96 inches of rain over 14 days of measurable rainfall). Spokane had the wettest month ever in its recorded history, and Quillayute reported a stunning 21.08 inches of rain over the month of October.

Meteorologists are predicting that the trend of above-normal rainfall will continue into November, although they are expecting temperatures to stay high. The cause: a La Nina system, the “flip side” of last winter’s El Nino system, which brought us an unusually dry and warm winter in 2015. The La Nina weather systems is expected to bring a dry winter to already-parched regions of California and the southeastern United States, but the Pacific Northwest typically sees a lot of rain in a La Nina year.

That means there’s a good chance that this year’s holiday season will be a stormy one. Follow these tips to stay safe during winter storms:

  • Before making a long trip by car, check your route on the Washington State Department of Transportation website. If you plan on going over a pass, make sure that it’s clear and that you have the appropriate equipment for handling icy roads.
  • Reduce your speed when the roads are wet or visibility is limited. Remember that your safe stopping distance increases when the road is wet, and when the weather is rainy or foggy, you may not be able to spot obstacles in the road ahead from a distance.
  • If you’re walking or biking, wear bright, reflective clothing. Remember that drivers may not be able to see you in the dark if your clothes are black, grey, or dark blue.

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