Skiers rejoice: Snow on the way to Washington mountains

Nov 29, 2023, 1:07 PM | Updated: 1:58 pm

snow washington...

A skier ski-ing down The Slot snow slope on Snoqualmie Peak in the Cascades range, Washington state, USA. (Photo from Mint_Images)

(Photo from Mint_Images)

Skiers, snowboarders, snow enthusiasts – great news! Snow is finally going to return to the mountains starting Thursday.

A big change in the late November dry weather pattern is getting underway. The high-pressure aloft that has been parked over the Pacific Northwest since before Thanksgiving is weakening and heading east, opening the door for a series of Pacific weather systems to move onshore.

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The first system will arrive Thursday, bringing rain to the Western Washington lowlands and a few inches of fresh snow to the mountains above 2,000 feet. Then, more potent weather systems are expected to track onshore, with rain in the lowlands and as much as one to two feet of new snow in the mountains.

Highway passes will all have snow, and motorists traveling over the Cascades this weekend should be prepared for winter weather driving conditions. The North Cascades Highway is open at the moment, but this series of storms will likely dump enough snow and raise the avalanche danger enough to close that highway for the winter season.

The fresh snow may also be enough to open more ski areas. Crystal Mountain recently opened with limited operations, and other ski areas such as Mt. Baker, Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, and White Pass are likely to get enough snow to open up sometime over the weekend.

Unfortunately, more incoming Pacific weather systems will offer warmer temperatures, meaning mountain snow levels will begin to rise above pass levels starting later Sunday and well into next week. The fresh snow that will fall in lower elevations into Sunday may get washed away with rain heading into next week.

The recent period of dry weather has dropped local rivers to lower levels. The return of rain and warmer temperatures means rivers will respond with runoff and rise next week, raising the threat of flooding – something to keep an eye on.

So skiers, snowboarders, and snow enthusiasts enjoy the return of snow to the mountains this weekend. Just be aware conditions will get warmer and wetter next week.

Follow Ted Buehner, the KIRO FM news meteorologist, on Twitter 

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