Avalanche Danger Closes Mountain Passes

SEATTLE (AP) – The latest storm in Washington brought enough snow to shut down three main mountain passes over the Cascade Range due to avalanche danger, and was blamed for at least one death on Thursday.

Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass was closed in both directions just before 9 p.m. Wednesday and it remained closed Thursday.

State transportation officials also closed Stevens Pass and White Pass, and the Mount Baker Highway.

Avalanche warnings were upgraded to extreme for the west slopes of the Cascade mountains through Thursday. Avalanche warnings remained high for the Cascade mountain passes, Cascade east slopes and Olympic mountains.

A 42-year-old Ellensburg man died early Thursday morning when his vehicle struck a semitrailer truck stuck in snow on State Route 10, about 3 miles west of Ellensburg. The Yakima Herald-Republic said Ryan L. Parke was killed in the accident, which has closed the highway.

A mudslide in north Seattle Thursday afternoon canceled Sound Transit commuter rail service and Amtrak train passenger service between Seattle and Everett. Sound Transit officials said service would resume Monday morning if there are no more slides.

The slide was made up of trees, mud and rocks and estimated at 5 feet deep and 30 feet long, KOMO-TV reported. Other slides were blocking smaller roads around western Washington.

In downtown Seattle Thursday night, fallen trees were blocking multiple lanes of northbound traffic on Interstate 5 near the West Seattle bridge.

Trooper Rick Johnson said on Twitter at about 9:30 p.m. there were “major delays” and that those heading north on the freeway would find only lane open in the area through early Friday.

No injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service said 1.63 inches of rain fell in Seattle Thursday, making it the wettest February day in the city in 21 years.

An ice storm that covered the Spokane area Thursday morning was a surprise as overnight temperatures stayed below freezing longer than expected.

About a quarter inch of ice was measured at the National Weather Service office on Thursday morning, according to meteorologist Bryce Williams.

Many area schools were closed because of the ice, along with Eastern Washington University in Cheney and Gonzaga University in Spokane.

Police in Spokane described road conditions as “horrible” in a press release.

Power was restored to about 2,000 Spokane customers who lost electricity for a time Thursday morning.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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