Stevens Pass gets first big snow of season, warns drivers of road conditions

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) says the first significant snow of the season is falling in Stevens Pass on Thursday, and if you're traveling through the pass, they warn it could get "messy."

WSDOT also says SR 20 North Cascades will close Thursday night due to avalanche concerns.

"I always like to see the snow coming," said Jamie Moreno, a visitor to Stevens Pass.

But what comes as a warning for drivers is welcome news for others. With the snow falling fast and furious, FOX 13 News caught up with Moreno's family from Mexico City who stopped to snap some photos at Stevens Pass during their annual vacation.

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"Every year we stop by Stevens Pass to enjoy the snow; we like it a lot.," said Moreno.

 While beautiful, WSDOT spokesperson Lauren Loebsack said the possibility for heavy snow Thursday night followed by rain, will likely make a mess of the roads.

"We want to remind people that this is the first real [storm] weather that we are seeing, particularly over Stevens Pass," said Loebsack.

She said winter driving is about being prepared.

"Make sure that you have good tires, make sure the tanks on your vehicle are full—not just the gas tank, but the fluid for your windshield wipers," said Loebsack.

Stevens Pass Ski Resort Vice President and general manager Ellen Galbraith said the snowfall is a good sign.

"We have a lot of moisture coming in this weekend, and we are anticipating several inches," said Galbraith. "It’s awesome to have it snowing at the pass."

You may recall that the Attorney General's Office had been looking into complaints at the ski resort in January, with more than 39,000 signing an online petition, asking for the area's owners, Vail Resorts, to improve conditions that had frustrated ski pass holders, such as understaffing. Galbraith, who came on board this summer, said the resort has made some changes for the new season.

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"We are well on our way to being in an excellent position for this winter. We are very pleased of where our hiring is going so far," said Galbraith. "We’ve raised wages. We have a lot more staff that are coming, and we are very much looking forward to the winter and having a good season."

Galbraith said the parking situation is also being addressed.

"Yes, it can get busy and people need to get up here early. That said, for the first time this season, we are capping our day ticket sales, so we are very closely watching how many day tickets will be sold to have a better experience for parking and for everyone up here at Stevens," said Galbraith.

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The ski area could open as soon as Dec. 2 if the weather cooperates. As far as the roads are concerned, traffic was flowing as of Thursday afternoon. 

"They are pretty clear, pretty nice," said Moreno.

WSDOT says you'll want to fuel up and bring some warm clothes and good shoes that you can walk in, just in case there are closures from snow or debris in the area of the Bolt Creek Fire on US 2.