Winter weather likely for holiday travelers across mountain passes

SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash – It’s not too early to be thinking about holiday travel, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

While it’s been mostly only rain falling in Western Washington, central and eastern areas are getting hit with wintry weather that has been causing spinouts and crashes.

The drive across the mountain passes Friday afternoon began with low clouds and plenty of snow and ice on the ground.

D.J. and his grandma were heading over the pass for an early Christmas celebration in Eastern Washington.

“It’s been OK so far. It’s clear, a little bit of fog but not bad,” said Sherry Reed.

Rain and snow fell as a mix Friday afternoon along I-90, with much bigger flakes falling on Stevens Pass on U.S. Highway 2.

WSDOT says anyone heading out for the holidays needs to be prepared.

“We could have blue skies or we can have a blizzard,” said WSDOT’s Ally Barrera. “So really, to get people prepared as early as possible, I think, is a good thing.”

More snow wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though.

“The snow is really fresh,” said snowboarder Stanley Chu.

Those hitting the slopes at Summit at Snoqualmie have been waiting for fresh powder.

“This is really like the pause before the big stuff comes,” said Guy Lawrence.

While the Summit at Snoqualmie was able to open early this season, the snow hasn’t been falling much in the past few weeks and Friday’s system was a welcome sight.

“We just hope there’s more behind it,” said Lawrence. “We just want to keep the good times rolling.”

“We just have to drive slow and be careful,” said Reed.

It’s good advice if your holiday plans require an early trip this season. Plus, since Christmas falls on a three-day weekend this year, WSDOT says you should expect to find more people on the road with you.

“We do expect traffic to be a little heavier than usual,” said Barrera. “We do want people to be ready to give themselves plenty of extra time to get where they need to go.”

Drivers are advised to keep an emergency kit in their cars,  and it’s also not a bad idea to bring a set of chains just in case.