Northwest forecasters promise Thanksgiving break

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SEATTLE (AP) — Northwest residents might be thankful for a brief break in the rainstorms, if the forecast for Thursday is correct.

“I would say about 90 percent of our models are showing Thanksgiving Day will really not be a bad day at all,” said forecaster Jay Albrecht at the National Weather Service office in Seattle. Skies should be mostly clear, and there might even be a patch of blue.

Rains bracketing the holiday could make travel difficult in places, especially for those driving over Cascade mountain passes where they may encounter snow. But it won’t be anything like Monday’s storm that dropped a record 2.13 inches of rain at Sea-Tac Airport, flooded urban streets, knocked out power for 50,000 and killed a hunter on the Oregon coast when a tree blew down on his tent.

Portland police Officer Paul Meyer, who was hit by a falling tree while training on an all-terrain vehicle, was recovering but still in serious condition Tuesday at a Portland hospital. Utilities have restored power to most of the outages.

The severe weather is headed downstream.

“The big one has occurred already,” Albrecht said.

The Northwest is still in line for a series of Pacific frontal systems, but it’s back to typical November bluster.

“Just kind of showery and blustery conditions but not high winds or anything damaging,” he said. “This time of year you can’t complain about that.”

Floodwaters receded Tuesday in most places. In southwest Washington, forecasters continued a flood warning for the Chehalis River into today in Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties, but only minor flooding was expected. The Lewis County sheriff’s office said Tuesday that high water had closed some roads.

More than 100 residents of Nickelsville, a Seattle homeless camp, were trying to stay dry with tents on pallets or other platforms. A pump was moving foot-deep water out of a low spot as more rain fell Tuesday.

Fifteen mudslides hit Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks between Seattle and Everett during the storm. The largest early Tuesday at Everett covered 50 feet of track up to 15 feet deep with mud, rocks and trees, said spokesman Gus Melonas.

Freight trains have been running sporadically. No Amtrak or commuter rail train will run between Seattle and Everett until 12:30 a.m. Thursday at the earliest.

Snow forecast in Washington Cascade highway passes

SEATTLE (AP) — Drivers crossing the Washington Cascades today should expect periods of snow in the mountain passes. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory until 10 p.m.

Forecasters expect 3 to 11 inches of snow in the mountains, with the snow level down to 3,000 feet.

The snow level is forecast to rise Thursday, but there’s still a chance of freezing temperatures in the passes. Another front Friday will bring more precipitation and the threat of rain and snow showers through the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Transportation Department closed the North Cascades Highway on Tuesday for the winter because of heavy snow and avalanches. Last year the 37-mile section of Highway 20 closed on Nov. 21.

Heavy snow in the Washington Cascades is allowing some ski resorts to open in time for the holiday weekend. Stevens Pass opened Tuesday. Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker are opening today.

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