Whatcom County's skiers and snowboarders may be thankful for this weekend's stormy weather, as it might create enough snow for a partial opening of Mt. Baker Ski Area on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
A series of storm fronts is set to bring rain and wind to the area starting Saturday, Nov. 17, and that could translate to heavy snow in the mountains.
Duncan Howat, general manager at the Ski Area, said he anticipates 3 to 4 feet of snowfall through the weekend, though whether the area can open Wednesday likely will depend on how warm it gets Monday before cooling down Tuesday.
It's going to be a wet week for Whatcom County lowlands, with a storm system set to hit Saturday. Another storm is forecast to come in late Sunday afternoon and a third on Monday, all bringing periods of heavy rain.
"It's definitely an active period coming up here," said National Weather Service meteorologist Art Gaebel. "Rain, wind, showers, and repeat the cycle probably every 24 to 36 hours, right now, up until Thanksgiving."
The wet weather likely will continue on Thanksgiving as well.
"I think one thing's for sure: It's going to be probably overcast, and if not rain, you'll have showers," Gaebel said.
With those heavy rains comes a chance for flooding, though Gaebel said that if any flooding occurs, it likely won't be until the middle of next week.
The storms also will bring blustery weather to areas along the coast, with winds of 25 to 35 mph possible, and gusts even stronger.
Holiday travelers heading over the mountain passes should prepare for wintry conditions, with snow levels ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet through the next week. North Cascades Highway - which generally closes between mid-November and mid-December - is still open, but state Department of Transportation workers will be monitoring this weekend's storms to see if closure is necessary, said spokesman Dustin Terpening.
"We are keeping a very close eye on the weather conditions and the avalanche conditions," he said.
CHECK THE PASSES
Travelers can call 511 to check the status of mountain passes, or go online to wsdot.com/traffic/passes to check on conditions at passes throughout the state and to view travel alerts.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at email@example.com or call 756-2803.