Snowstorms hit Washington, increase state’s snowpack

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SEATTLE — After a relatively dry start to winter that had some people worrying about mountain snowpack, the season has taken a more familiar look with a parade of mid-February storms marching across Washington on strong winds, steady rains and heavy mountain snow.

About 3 feet of snow have fallen since Friday at Snoqualmie Pass, and another 2 to 4 feet of snow are expected by Thursday, said meteorologist Chris Burke in the National Weather Service office in Seattle.

Many skiers were thwarted from reaching the Cascade slopes Monday and today by closures for avalanche control on Stevens and Snoqualmie passes.

A winter storm warning was in effect until Wednesday morning.

The rain at lower elevations is filling Western Washington rivers, and the weather service issued flood warnings on the Chehalis, Skookumchuck and Skokomish rivers. Any flooding would likely be minor, Burke said.

Forecasters also warned of high winds today on northern Oregon and southern Washington coast, but that’s not that unusual for this time of year, Burke said.

Another vigorous frontal system is expected on Wednesday night and Thursday, the National Weather Service said. The storm parade may pause this weekend. There’s a chance of partly sunny days, which may allow skiers to hit the slopes.

The mountain snowpack that had been around 50 percent Feb. 1 has climbed to about 80 percent in three weeks, Burke said. And it will likely continue to accumulate into the early spring.

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