Local

Despite rain, snow along Highway 2, Bolt Creek Fire still burning

SKYKOMISH, Wash. — After an unseasonably warm October, the Cascades are finally getting their first taste of precipitation.

Along the Skykomish River on Highway 2, there is now an increased risk of debris flow and landslides.

Further up the road, the Stevens Pass Ski Area received a dusting of snow. Even with all this wet weather, the Bolt Creek Fire continues to burn.

Stevens Pass General Manager Ellen Galbrait isn’t sure the snow on the ground will stick around, but she’s celebrating the soggy forecast.

“When I drove in this morning, it was awesome to see the snowline,” said Galbraith. “To have the precipitation, not just rain but also snow to help put those fires out, is a big relief to not only us, but the community.”

In years past, emergency crews have battled fires on the east side of the ski area toward Leavenworth, but never on the west side.

RB McKeon, with the Washington State Department of Transportation, says this is uncharted territory.

“Its sort of an ever-evolving situation,” said McKeon. “We’ve gone from wildfire response to winter weather response.”

WSDOT officials are busy knocking down hazardous trees, a process that could take weeks, perhaps even months.

On top of that, they’ve now got to keep their eyes on the winter weather warning issued for the Cascades.

As for the risk of avalanche this upcoming winter, WSDOT says its too soon to tell.

The Northwest Avalanche Center agrees. Officials there acknowledge changes in terrain could contribute to a collapse, but the main factor they monitor is snowpack.