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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Heavy snow hitting mountain passes. Here’s what to know before you go.

By Christine Clarridge Seattle Times

College students and holiday travelers may face difficult driving conditions while trekking across the state, as meteorologists predicted Thursday that as much as 2 feet of snow would fall on some of Washington’s mountain passes by this morning.

Westbound Interstate 90 closed briefly near Cle Elum on Thursday evening after multiple spinout collisions in the falling snow, which likely won’t let up until late this morning, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

So, it’s a good time to review safety advice offered by the Washington State Patrol, the state Department of Transportation and the National Weather Service:

    Slow down.

    Check the latest updates on the mountain passes before you go. WSDOT posts statewide travel alerts and road conditions at wsdot.com/traffic.

    Clear snow and ice from car surfaces before driving. Snow on the hood can blow toward the windshield.

    Make sure you have the proper equipment, including chains, spare parts, jumper cables, extra blankets, food and water.

    Keep your fuel tank and your wiper-fluid reservoir at least half full.

    Keep your cellphone charged.

    If you need to pull over, stay with your vehicle. Call for help or hang a colorful piece of cloth from your window or antenna.

    Turn on headlights.

    Even when roads are dry, watch for icy bridges.

    Stay far behind the car in front of you so you have enough room to stop.

    Don’t use cruise control.

    Use brakes sparingly to avoid skidding. Don’t pump anti-lock brakes to stop.

“The main thing is to take it sloooooow,” said State Patrol spokesman Rick Johnson. He’s been giving that advice for 28 years, he said.

If you have a choice of route, Snoqualmie Pass may be your best bet: It’s expected to get an additional 4-6 inches of snow by about 10 a.m. today, said Seattle meteorologist Steve Reedy. At Stevens Pass, 12-18 inches is expected, and White Pass is anticipating 18-24 inches.

Reedy said those who can put off their travel until midday would be wise to do so.

“If they can avoid this weather, they should,” he said.

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