Knowing what to expect from Snoqualmie Pass weather is essential to getting safely over the summit. If you're heading to the pass in search of perfectly packed powder, then you're in good company. Enthusiasts come from all over the world to explore Snoqualmie Pass and its many avenues for downhill as well as cross-country winter adventures.
Admittedly, the same thing that makes for prime skiing sometimes creates hazardous conditions. Nevertheless, with a little planning and guidance, you too can enjoy Washington state's outdoor wonderland and make memories that will last a lifetime.
If you are looking for current driving conditions, you'll find that link under the "Snoqualmie Pass Weather Advisories" heading, below.
Where Is Snoqualmie Pass?
The Cascade mountain range runs North to South through Washington, and Interstate 90 crosses the mountains from east to west. Heading east, away from Seattle and the Puget Sound, I-90 meanders through Bellevue, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, and North Bend. Then the trek upward through the Cascades continues to Snoqualmie Pass, where the route reaches an elevation of a little over 3,000 feet.
Snoqualmie Pass is the lowest point crossing over the top of the Cascades; however, it's still high enough to get plenty of snow each season. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) estimates that Snoqualmie Pass weather generates on the average around 450 inches of snowfall during the winter. It rains a lot in the area too, making for potentially extreme road conditions throughout the year.
Snoqualmie Pass Weather and Traffic
An estimated 32,000 vehicles travel over the pass daily during the week and twice as many on the weekend. It's a good idea to prepare for Snoqualmie Pass weather no matter what the season because nature and traffic can be unpredictable.
Roads closures happen because of accidents, ice, highway maintenance, and avalanche control. Avalanche danger increases with new snow, melting snow, and high winds. Their occurrence causes traffic delays in the winter, and keep in mind that an avalanche can also be a danger in the summer at higher elevations. If there is still snow on the top of the mountain, the risk happens in the heat of the day when everything warms up and begins to melt.
You can see why it's critical to keep informed of the weather and traffic situation if you're planning a trip to Snoqualmie Pass. Additionally, each season has its own set of challenges.
Construction and repairs usually get underway in late spring as soon as Snoqualmie Pass weather permits. In 2018 a seven-mile stretch of I-90 got widened to help with traffic flow. Two of the three eastbound lanes opened in the spring and the third is ready to go in November. In all, there is expected to be 15 miles of new construction to ease congestion going over the mountain range. Be sure to check out WSDOT's construction schedule before heading out.
Snoqualmie Pass weather in the spring is erratic, switching between heavy rain, sleet, snow and occasionally some ice. The average low in March is 27 degrees Fahrenheit with the average high reaching around 37 degrees Fahrenheit. That 10-degree variance can make all the difference in the world when it comes to treacherous road conditions. Add an average precipitation rate of over seven and a half inches during March, and it's easy to see how Snoqualmie Pass weather might still look a lot like winter in early spring.
The average snowfall during March is 55.5 inches. Indeed, Snoqualmie Pass weather conditions allow the slopes to stay open into April.
Right around mid-June Snoqualmie Pass weather starts to change. It warms up to between 48 and 51 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can't count on it feeling like summer until after the Fourth of July. The average precipitation in June is still just under four inches. Many a camper has had their spirits dampened by going out unprepared for the inevitable quick onset rain storm.
You're chances of not getting rained out improve dramatically around the second week of July. The temperatures warm up, and Snoqualmie Pass weather gets drier, with a little over one and a half inches of rain on average for the entire month.
As the seasons change once again, the rain moves back in, and it gets wetter through mid-November, culminating with an average precipitation rate of close to 15 inches for the month. Of course, the temperature will determine whether or not that rain will turn into sleet or snow. But with an average low of 28 degrees and an average high of only 37 degrees Fahrenheit, there's a good chance that snow will happen at least once before winter technically begins on December 21.
Historically, snowfall starts in earnest sometime in November and hovers around 75 inches through December. Then the accumulation drops to just below 70 inches as the temperatures plummet to between 24 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit throughout January and February. Icy conditions make proceeding with caution a necessity.
Winter Driving Checklist
You should probably always keep a first aid kit in the car when you're planning a road trip. The same goes for flares, jumper cables, your phone charger, high energy snacks, and water. Winter weather calls for a few additions, such as a warm blanket, sand or kitty litter, an extra coat, and gloves.
WSDOT has a handy checklist that you can print out ahead of time so you won't forget anything.
Practice safe driving during the winter using these tips:
Snoqualmie Pass Summit and Slopes
You'll reach the Snoqualmie Pass summit 45 minutes out of Seattle traveling up I-90, depending on Snoqualmie Pass weather and road conditions.
Once you arrive, pick up one of the handy color-coded trail maps to guide you to the appropriate spot for your winter adventure. You'll find printed versions at ticket windows, guest services, welcome areas, and main chairlifts. Peruse the guides online to discover the ease or difficulty of the slopes you're considering. The challenge level, denoted by a green circle for beginners, shows a blue square for intermediate, a black diamond for advanced skiers, and a double-black diamond indicating the expert level trails.
Trail maps also let you know what kind of lifts are available. You will be able to find out where to park as well as if there is a shuttle bus to get you to the trailhead. Other pertinent information includes where the restrooms, food, bar, and guest services are located.
The Alpental has areas that are sheer cliffs which are pretty much always closed to guests, and there is a real danger of avalanche in this area depending on Snoqualmie Pass weather. Back in 2005, the year that record highs pushed 60 degrees Fahrenheit in January, 28 skiers were killed in an avalanche that was most likely started by two skiers who were in a closed section of Alpental. The lesson here is to head the warnings. If an area is closed, keep out.
If you refer to the trail map, which is updated each year, you'll get a clear picture of the best places to ski, no matter what your level. There is one small slope for beginners at Alpental, the ST. Bernard. Other than that, all of the runs at Alpental are for intermediate to advanced skiers.
The Nordic slopes are popular with intermediate and beginning skiers, although there are a few advanced runs like Frog Legs, White Rabbit, and Nova. This area also offers snowshoe trails, a loop that takes you around Mount Catherine, and a warming hut along the way. Cross-country skiers love this area as well.
You'll want to hit the Nordic area early to take advantage of their 14 sunrise loops for beginners to intermediate levels. You can take in the early morning with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or an invigorating downhill trail. Start planning your visit in advance here with lift tickets, lessons, and lodging. The Summit at Snoqualmie doesn't offer lodging facilities, but there are plenty of options in and around Snoqualmie Summit.
You'll find Snoqualmie Pass Summit West right off of I-90. This area offers lots of options for families with trails for beginners, as well as advanced skiers. There's a kid's adventure area, as well as a snowsports school where you can learn to snowboard in addition to traditional skiing techniques. Plus they offer night skiing, tubing, and a terrain park. Lots of winter fun to be had here.
The slopes at Summit Central cut through the trees and make for some breathtaking downhill skiing. There are a variety of trails from beginner to advanced, and Snoqualmie's flagship terrain park is located here. You can access the terrain park with the Central Express, the summit's high-speed quad. Greenhorn Acres is an area that offers smaller jumps and jibs for beginner snowboarders to hone their skills before going on to bigger and better things.
Summit Central is across from the summit's tubing park. If you're not into skiing or snowboarding, you can still have a wild ride down the mountain. The park offers a covered lift to the top and over 20 lanes for a speedy trip back down 500 feet, with 40 feet of vertical action. Tubing is a less expensive way to have some fun in the snow too; however, sessions fill up fast, so it's a good idea to order your tickets in advance.
In the Summit East, you'll find a landscape with natural snow features great for jumps and a longer beginner's slope, called Creek Run. It's intersected by several advanced level trails Kendall, Chickamin, and Sarrah's Run. Additionally, there are some advanced downhill slopes. Blowdown and Roz's go right through the trees, and Hyack Face is a downhill slope that stretches all the way from Milwaukee Ridge to the East Base.
When you get tired and hungry, you can drop into the Milwaukee Lodge Cafe for a bite, then visit the Broken Tip Bar for a drink in a classic Northwest setting.
Snoqualmie Pass Weather Advisories
There are lots of ways to stay abreast of Snoqualmie Pass weather conditions and advisories. One of the best ways it to save this link to The Summit at Snoqualmie conditions and weather page. It's packed with useful information including snowfall with variable surface conditions, the weather forecast, and I-90 travel challenges. Plus, they offer a live-camera view of several regions such as Summit Central and Alpental.
Another option is to connect to the WSDOT Snoqualmie Pass weather and road conditions page. Here you'll find up to the minute reporting on the weather and travel times as well as visibility and wind speeds, which are important considerations all year long.
Snoqualmie Pass Recreation for All Seasons
There is so much to do when you visit Snoqualmie Pass, no matter what time of year. Fishing, camping, backpacking and day hikes are all popular activities for Washingtonians and tourists alike. You can explore MT. Baker's Snoqualmie National Forest; maybe you can even go birdwatching or river rafting. Make sure to get the necessary passes, permits, and gear up so nothing will detract from your Snoqualmie Pass adventure, no matter what the weather has in store.
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