'Slow Down!' Thanksgiving return commute could be dicey over passes

SEATTLE – The busiest travel day of the year is behind us, but WSDOT crews warn the worst day to be on the roads is lurking. If you’re headed over the passes this Thanksgiving weekend, use caution.

“Slow down and take your time,” said Kevin Nicholson, a WSDOT supervisor working Thanksgiving Day at Snoqualmie Pass.

“Even if you’ve got good snow tires, you hit that heavy slush and it wants to throw those smaller cars around,” he said about Thursday’s conditions on Interstate 90.

The slush, said Nicholson, can be more dangerous than snow. “It throws you around and it can catch you all of a sudden,” he said.

The only thing worse than slush is ice, said Nicholson. Conditions are expected to drop below freezing overnight.

“If you don’t have four-wheel drive and you don’t have good tires, then you need to have chains with you for sure,” said Shawn Utigard. Utigard and his daughter were headed to Southeast Washington for Thanksgiving over Snoqualmie pass. They were hoping to beat the dicey roadway conditions.

“So far they’re not bad, but it looks like they’re getting worse as we’re heading east,” he said.

Nicholson said it’s expected to get worse heading into the weekend as well. Although the weather may taper off, traffic is supposed to pick back up. “Between Thanksgiving and the Apple Cup in Eastern Washington, we’re anticipating heavy traffic volumes,” said Nicholson.

Extra crews and trucks were called in to help clear the interstate at Snoqualmie Pass. Prepare for snow plows, and slow downs, said Nicholson.

“The safest thing to do is follow them up and over the hill,” he said.

Drivers were quick to share advice at The Summit at Snoqualmie. “Turn your lights on,” said Amy Vadonodo. “With all the rain, you can’t see anybody.”

Don’t forget the basics, said Danny Nelson, “be careful; pay attention.”

Nicholson reminded all drivers to prepare for the worst case scenario. “They should have their tire chains and winter clothing,” he said. “It’s going to be cold across the state. You never know when you’re going to break down you want to have clothes that are going to keep you warm.”