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Heavy snow in the North Cascades prompts this warning

Mount Baker view from the Ski Area.
Mount Baker view from the Ski Area. The Bellingham Herald file

Even as a windstorm forecast for lowland Whatcom County mostly fizzled Tuesday, heavy snow continued in the mountains amid the first official avalanche warning of the season.

Northwest Avalanche Center meteorologists issued their first online advisory Monday, warning of considerable risk near the treeline and above on the west slope of the North Cascades in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

Mt. Baker Ski Area was open with limited midweek operations as 9 inches of snow fell over the past day with a foot or more additional accumulation in the forecast.

After several days of warmer temperatures and rain around Thanksgiving, the snow level has returned to more normal 3,000 feet. Heather Meadows was reporting a 46-inch base at 3,500 feet and Panorama Dome had a 63-inch base at 5,000 feet, according to the ski area’s daily snow report.

A winter storm warning was in effect through Tuesday night for the North Cascades and snow or snow showers are in the forecast through Sunday.

In the Whatcom County lowlands, a high-wind warning Tuesday forecast sustained winds to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph. But the storm produced only a typical November bluster, with sustained winds less than 25 mph at Bellingham International Airport.

Strongest wind gust was 40 mph, at 8:53 a.m.

A threat of landslides persists as Whatcom County hillsides remain sodden after more than a week of intermittent rain.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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