Avalanche danger forces closure of all east-west mountain passes

SEATTLE -- The three major east-west mountain passes remained closed Thursday because of avalanche danger.

Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass was closed all night due to avalanche danger, said officials with the Washington State Department of Transportation. I-90 is closed eastbound at milepost 34 near North Bend and westbound at milepost 71 near Easton, milepost 84 near Cle Elum and milepost 106 near Ellensburg.

US 12 over White Pass remained closed in both directions "due to a snow slide" near Wild Cat Creek, WSDOT said.

WSDOT planned to reassess both Snoqualmie and White Passes around 4 p.m. Thursday. Crews are expected to be doing avalanche control work throughout the day.

US 2 was also closed over Stevens Pass from Scenic, milepost 58, to Leavenworth at milepost 99, due to snowslides and high avalanche danger. Chumstick Highway is open to local traffic only.

Washington State Patrol Trooper J. Sevigney tweeted Wednesday night, "Alternate route to west Washington...try Oregon."

The snow in the mountains becomes unstable when rain and ice accumulate on top of it.

"A very rough weather pattern is over us through Friday," Q13 News Chief Meteorologist Walter Kelley said. "Flooding rains for most of us, snow or ice up north around Bellingham, gusty winds Thursday evening for the weight-loaded trees up in the foothills, pass closures, tidal overflow early Thursday for Puget Sound, you name it and we’ve got it."

Heavy rain continues through Friday morning, especially outside of the metro area. This will continue to create problems, especially for the foothills. The wind gusts will pick up Thursday for the foothills, too.

Tidal overflow for Puget Sound will come with the high tides. The first high tide is around 5 a.m. Thursday.

The mountains will be a total mess through Friday," Kelley said. "Heavy snow, to lots of rain, to heavy snow again Friday equals big problems up there. I’d expect long duration closures."

But some good news -- "This weekend looks quiet, dry and mild!"