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With freezing temperatures on the horizon, WSDOT urges drivers to prepare for winter weather

Despite a cool and quiet start to the week, in a matter of hours, the forecast will become busy and quite chaotic. With widespread heavy lowland rain, near or at freezing temperatures, and unseasonably low snow levels, officials with Washington State’s Department of Transportation are cautioning drivers across Washington to plan ahead, take things slow, and prepare for the winter-like weather.

Summer Derrey with the Washington State Department of Transportation told us that when it comes to the first major snowfall of the season on our mountain passes, it’s time to be, “a little bit more concerned about your driving, to be a little bit more aware, more than anything just knowing that is when we typically see more wrecks.”

In fact, it’s crashes and driver behaviors that are the leading cause of closures on Snoqualmie Pass. From 2022 to 2023, WSDOT revealed that crashes and human behaviors accounted for 122 hour’s worth of closures, whereas avalanche control accounted for only three hours.

Derrey added that whether or not you’re familiar with the closures that are prone to the Pass, it’s worth reminding folks that when these closures happen, “sometimes drivers are just stuck in their cars for hours waiting for the pass to reopen and there’s a lot of process in terms of reopening it,” adding “... knowing that, I would be prepared for just about anything mother nature throws our way on Snoqualmie pass.”

As for preparations you can do before you travel. WSDOT has a list of winter driving tips that include but are not limited to:

  • Statewide pass conditions.
  • Traction tire and chain requirements (as well as a video for how-to install).
  • Checklist for items to keep in your car during the winter months.
  • Winter driving supply checklist.
  • Information for why closures may happen.

While we are still in the thick of fall, the good news is, this particular weather system is more of a “one-off”. In fact, Washington State’s Climatologist, Nick Bond told us that this type of weather system this late in October is “unusual” and is, “not really necessarily an omen for the winter ahead as a whole.”

As this weather system plays out, we’ll continue our team coverage on KIRO 7 News and provide the latest forecast.