Avalanche Concerns Add to NW Thanksgiving Travel Woes

November 24, 2011; 3:50 AM
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It is not just drenching rain, mountain snow and howling winds that travelers across the Northwest will have to contend with through the Thanksgiving weekend, but also the danger of avalanches.

The mild surge of air that sent snow levels soaring above mountain pass levels with Tuesday's fierce storm has set the stage for possible avalanches in the Cascades and Olympics.

The danger eased a bit Wednesday night as fresh cold air arrived. However, two to three additional storms will hit the region through Monday, bringing more heavy snow to the mountains and more avalanche dangers.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "The pattern will continue to bring inches of rain to coastal and low elevations and feet of snow to the high country through the long holiday weekend."

Seattle and Portland both got record rainfall from Tueasday's storm with 1.76 inches and 2.35 inches falling, respectively.

The Northwest storm train will continue at full speed on Thanksgiving Day, unleashing another round of rain, mountain snow and gusty winds this afternoon and tonight.

Rain totals from the Thanksgiving storm will fall well short of Tuesday's soaker. However, new flooding problems may arise with the saturated ground.

The Cascades and Olympics will receive heavy snow, leading to treacherous travel through the passes. Gusty winds blowing and drifting the snow around will worsen the situation.

The next Pacific storm to slam onshore will take aim at British Columbia Friday night but will gradually sink southward and bear down on the Northwest before the extended holiday weekend comes to a close.

"For the holiday weekend as a whole, the Pacific Northwest will remain the stormiest spot in the nation and will experience the most weather-related travel problems," Sosnowski said.

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