The snow gift that keeps on giving: slush next hazard for drivers

The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting closer and closer for Western Washington drivers, while those travelling over the Cascade Mountains and into Eastern Washington could see up to two feet of snow before Christmas.

Forecasts call for snow overnight Tuesday night, but the mercury should head upwards Wednesday. Before it clears out, the upcoming storm could dump close to two feet in the mountains.

By Christmas Day, most of the state should see normal winter conditions. That’s a relief for drivers and snow-fighting crews.

Once the temperatures start increasing, drivers will be dealing with slush and walls of snow along the roadways. Drivers need to take some time and think about how to navigate through these slushy roads.

“We are very encouraged with the forecast, but drivers still need to slow down and be prepared,” said WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond. “Where there was compact snow and ice, there will be slush. It may be built up in some spots, especially in areas where they received the most snow such as the mountains, Hood Canal, Eastern and Southwest Washington. As clean-up continues, be prepared for differences in driving conditions on local streets and highways.”

Drivers also should be prepared for more trucks and oversized loads on state highways. The heavy trucks waiting to cross the mountain pass and into Southwest Washington and Oregon are moving again.

Another piece of advice is to take off your car chains before you reach the highway. Most of Washington’s primary routes are bare and wet. Drivers who do keep their chains on risk losing a chain on the highway, creating a hazard for other drivers. Stopping along the highway is also dangerous, as many shoulders are still filled with snow.

“We know of at least one injury when someone was taking off their chains on the highway,” Hammond said. “Please keep carrying chains, it’s safer for you and other drivers to take them off before you hit the high volume highways.”

WSDOT crews have been out today picking up discarded and lost chains from I-5 and other routes.

Drivers are encouraged to check conditions along their entire route before hitting the highways.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday:

• SR 112 near Neah Bay remains closed due to a rockslide. A boulder and debris from the slope landed in the eastbound lane. The boulder severely damaged the eastbound lane and buckled the asphalt in the westbound lane.

• WSDOT recommends snow tires or chains on US 12 west of White Pass.

• To prepare for possible upcoming weather condition, the Washington State Ferries refueled the Kitsap. This cancelled the 11:25 a.m. sailing from Seattle and the 12:35 p.m. sailing from Bremerton. The Kitsap returned to service with the 3 p.m. sailing from Seattle.

• Amtrak Cascades has returned to service.

Those who must travel should be prepared for winter driving conditions. If you must drive, plan ahead and take precautions. Carry warm clothes, food, water and chains for your vehicles. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and a fully-charged cell phone. If driving, slow down and give yourself extra time to reach your destination safely. Roadways, intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady spots all have potential to develop ice that makes driving hazardous.

WSDOT’s 450 trucks are out clearing 20,000 lanes miles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That is more than 1,000 people working around the clock, treating roads for snow and ice, plowing and putting down sand and salt.

Know before you go:

• Get information from our Web site at before you leave your home or office.

• 511 – This driver information phone line provides current traffic, incident and closure information. TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388. Out-of-state callers can access the information at call 1-800-695-ROAD (7623).

• Mountain pass conditions are available at

• At, drivers can find WSDOT’s winter driving-related information, including preparing a vehicle for winter driving, safe driving tips and mountain pass travel advisories. The WSDOT winter site also offers information about chains, winter tires and how WSDOT maintenance crews work in winter weather.

• On WSDOT’s Web site,, drivers can look roadway temperatures and see camera images from across the state.

• At, a map shows highway incidents and closures.

• Sign up for news. WSDOT offers subscribers more than 25 specialized e-mail alerts, including news and information for freight haulers, construction related traffic revisions, project updates from all around the state, and timely updates on pass conditions. Visit and click the link for “E-mail updates.”

• Twitter users can add WSDOT to their personal accounts at: Go to for more details.

On the road:

• Overhead and roadside electronic signs •Highway advisory radio – WSDOT advises drivers to program 530AM and 1610AM on your radio.