As this seems to be the winter that never ends, the Cascades are once again under winter weather headlines. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the Washington Cascades until this evening, with accumulating snow as low as Snoqualmie Pass.
An unusually strong low-pressure system for this time of year is currently moving through the region. This movement brings colder temperatures into the mid-levels of the atmosphere. As the temperatures aloft fall, so does the snow level.
This morning, the snow level had fallen to around 3,000 feet. While it’s not unusual to see May snow in the Cascades, it is somewhat rare to see accumulating snow this low this late in the year. If you’re traveling over the mountain passes today, plan on encountering some slushy snowfall on the range of 1-4 inches. Above 4,500 feet, the totals will be closer to 6-12 inches.
Speaking of mountain travel, the North Cascades Highway is scheduled to open at 11:00 a.m. today (about two weeks ahead of schedule). If you plan on being some of the first to travel between Marblemount and Winthrop, prepare for snowy conditions. Rainy Pass tops out around 4,800 feet, and Washington Pass at over 5,400 feet. Drivers can expect 6-12 inches of fresh snow here.
With a drying and warming forecast, any threat for snow at the mountain passes will be gone by midday Wednesday. The view should get much better as well, with a sunny sky expected from Thursday through the upcoming weekend.