Record Snowfall Wallops Washington

(AP) Falling snow and a high threat of avalanches prompted officials to close three main east-west mountain passes in Washington state on New Year's Day and at least two of the highways were expected to remain shut down into Friday.

Another storm was expected to dump as much as 18 inches of new snow on the Cascade Mountains overnight, keeping avalanche danger high.

While Stevens and White passes were expected to remain closed into Friday, highway crews managed at 8:30 p.m. Thursday to reopen Snoqualmie Pass, which carries Interstate 90 across the Cascades.

Earlier, Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said officials would assess the pass situation Friday morning and proceed from there.

When all three passes were closed, travelers between Eastern and Western Washington were directed to detour south through Portland, Ore.

Washington has seen at least two weather-related deaths in the past week, while 10 people have been killed in recent British Columbia avalanches.

The next storm is forecast to bring snow and possibly high winds to large areas of winter-weary Eastern Washington from Yakima to Spokane.

In hard-hit Spokane, 2.4 inches of new snow fell Thursday, but more snow was expected in the evening, National Weather Service technician Bob Bonner said.

Spokane finished December with 61.5 inches of snow, far eclipsing the previous one-month record of 56.9 inches set in January 1950. Snowfall records in the area have been kept since 1893. The heavy snow has been blamed for more than a dozen roof collapses, including those at a church, grocery store, health club and building supply company.

An 85-year-old woman who lived about 15 miles southeast of Spokane died last weekend, suffocating when snow apparently fell from her rooftop and buried her as she shoveled her sidewalk, the Spokane County sheriff's office said.

On Wednesday, 24-year-old Megan Kinsella of the Seattle suburb of Redmond was killed after she and a male friend were hit by an ice slide after climbing in the Cascade Mountains near Enumclaw, Pierce County sheriff's Deputy Dan Hudson said. The man was hospitalized with a serious head injury.

The Weather Service also issued a high wind warning for the south Washington coast and south Washington Cascades and foothills through Thursday night.

Meanwhile, up to 7 inches of rain is expected in the mountains in Oregon, threatening to flood rivers already running high from last week's storms. Higher temperatures are also turning more snow into water, the weather service said.

State geologists warned that such conditions could be ripe for landslides.

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