Avalanche danger closes major mountain passes in Washington




SEATTLE — The latest storm in Washington brought enough snow to shut down three main mountain passes over the Cascade Range due to avalanche danger, and is blamed for at least one death on Thursday.

Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass was closed in both directions just before 9 p.m. Wednesday and it remained closed Thursday morning.State transportation officials also closed Stevens Pass and the Mount Baker Highway.

A Winter Storm Warning remained in effect for the Cascades, which could see up to two feet of new snow Thursday.

A 42-year-old Ellensburg man died early Thursday morning when his vehicle struck a semitrailer truck stuck in snow on State Route 10, about 3 miles west of Ellensburg. The Yakima Herald-Republic said Ryan L. Parke was killed in the accident, which has closed the highway.

The ice storm that covered the Spokane area Thursday morning was a surprise as overnight temperatures stayed below freezing longer than expected.

About a quarter inch of ice was measured at the National Weather Service office on Thursday morning, according to meteorologist Bryce Williams.

Many area schools were closed because of the ice, along with Eastern Washington University in Cheney and Gonzaga University in Spokane.

Police in Spokane described road conditions as “horrible” in a press release.

Power has been restored to about 2,000 Spokane customers who lost electricity for a time on Thursday morning.