Heavy snow falling in mountains; tips for safe holiday travel

Dec 19, 2012

Forecasters say the latest storm moving across Washington will leave up to 2 feet of new snow in the Cascades by Thursday morning.

Travelers planning on heading across the mountain passes this weekend should plan accordingly. Traction tires or chains are being advised, and in some cases may be required. 

The WSDOT offers these tips to protect yourself and your passengers while driving in snowy/icy conditions: 

  • Drive for conditions – slower speeds, slower acceleration.
  • Use your headlights.
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice.
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. And remember, the larger the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance.
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, or shady spots.
  • If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it is safe to pass. Remember that a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it is safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road.
  • On multi-lane roadways, snow plows often need to clear the center, throwing snow, ice and slush into nearby lanes. If approaching an on-coming snow plow, slow down and give the plow a little extra room.
  • Slow down and be extra cautious near the chain-up and removal areas. There are often people out of their vehicles.

The National Weather Service says the lowland snow showers in parts of Western Washington on Wednesday morning will turn to rain with high winds on the coast and northwest interior until Wednesday evening.

Forecasters say heavy snow will fall in the mountains through Wednesday night, making driving through the highway passes difficult. The Bellingham Herald reports the Mount Baker Ski Area is closed Wednesday.

The ski area has received more than 5 feet of snow since Sunday and another 2 feet is expected by Thursday morning. Heavy snow also is forecast on the east slopes of the Cascades and northeast Washington.

The Weather Service says 6 to 14 inches could fall from Wenatchee north, 3 to 5 inches in the Spokane-area and 1 to 2 inches around Moses Lake.