SEATTLE — Drivers, skiers, university students and beach-goers are all facing widespread warnings about forceful winds, snow dumps and freezing temperatures as the region’s first major winter storm of the season hits the Pacific Northwest.
Both the Seattle and Portland metro areas are bracing for a possible round of snow in the coming days that will be coupled with below-freezing temperatures.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for the Seattle metro area in effect Sunday afternoon through evening, forecasting between a trace to 4 inches (10.1 centimeters) of snow.
Meteorologists also predict snow for Portland by Wednesday.
The storm was already in action in the higher elevations.
Eastbound Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass was again shuttered Saturday afternoon with no estimate on when the road would reopen. The Washington State Department of Transportation reported heavy snow and poor visibility was causing vehicles to slip and slide near the summit.
On Friday, the Washington State University system also advised students to monitor road conditions and delay travel back to its campuses if necessary. The spring semester begins on Monday but the university urged students to stay safe and contact instructors if they can’t return to school.
Out on the coast in Oregon and Washington state, the weather service warned of large waves through Saturday with dangerous surf conditions that could top 30 feet (9.1 meters).
The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center also issued a backcountry avalanche warning on Saturday for all mountain areas in the Idaho Panhandle, including Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shsoshone counties in Idaho and also Lincoln County, Montana.
On Oregon’s Mount Hood outside of Portland, the Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort said it was suspending lift operations for Saturday after it was hit with an 84 mph (135 kph) gust at the top.