Spring snowfall has search and rescue crews monitoring avalanche risks at Snoqualmie Pass

A Winter Weather Advisory was issued across the mountain passes in western Washington. Up to eight inches of snow forecasted in the Cascades—good news for the ski resorts including The Summit at Snoqualmie, which is open for two more weeks. However, the April snowfall could cause a tricky situation for anyone trying to travel over the snow-capped mountains.

Sgt. Jason Stanley is the supervisor for the King County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit. He said the new snow falling on top of what’s already on the ground has the team monitoring the risks of an avalanche.

"The conditions up in the mountains are still dangerous. There’s a ton of snow in the pass right now," said Stanley. "We’ve had several instances this year of massive snowfall along with heating and cooling can create avalanche conditions. We’ve had some pretty incredible avalanches already this year where we’ve just been very fortunate to not have people in those avalanche shoots at the time."Though rescue numbers have been low this year, the team still prepares their gear and helicopters for the avalanche risks that come with this spring snowfall.

Despite it being April, Stanley said current weather conditions are shaping up to be just as dangerous as the winter season.

"If someone gets caught up in the avalanche and conditions are still very high and dangerous, we’re not going to send volunteer searchers up there to look. You might get a helicopter flyover, but that’s not going to rescue anybody," he said.

Stanley is urging all mountain hikers to make a safety plan before their visit.

"Check to see what the conditions are before you hike. That should be the bare minimum you do, no matter if you’re a backcountry hiker or skier or going up to the mountains with your family and just a leisurely hike," said Stanley.

Road conditions could also get slick traveling through the passes. Washington State Department of Transportation said studded tires are no longer allowed. Representatives are still advising people to keep tire chains in their cars just in case the snow sticks to the roads.

Washington State Patrol troopers said they are working with WSDOT. Should road restrictions change during the springtime snowfall, troopers said they will have eyes on the road to make sure everyone is following the rules.

Crystal Mountain is taking advantage of the deep snowpack. The resort is closing weekday services on April 18, but extending its ski and snowboard season on the weekends through May 9 for those who want to hit the slopes before summer.


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