The avalanche forecast has been bumped up to extreme in the western Cascades, which is a rare warning.
Forecasters said heavy precipitation is increasing the risk of slides in areas like Paradise, Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker.
“These are dangerous conditions and all avalanche terrain should be avoided in this area,” according to the Northwest Avalanche Center.
The latest storm brought enough snow to shut down the main mountain passes over the Cascade Range due to avalanche danger, and is blamed for at least one death on Thursday.
Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and White Pass shut down late Wednesday and were to remain closed at least until early Friday. Officials said several snow slides occurred Wednesday night, prompting the closure.
Mount Rainier National Park kept the gate to Paradise closed Thursday. Visitors were still able to get to Longmire.
A Winter Storm Warning remained in effect for the Cascades, which could see up to 2 feet of new snow before Thursday ended.
A 42-year-old Ellensburg man died early Thursday morning when his vehicle struck a semitrailer truck stuck in snow on State Route 10, about 3 miles west of Ellensburg. The Yakima Herald-Republic said Ryan L. Parke was killed in the accident, which closed the highway.
The ice storm that covered the Spokane area Thursday morning was a surprise as overnight temperatures stayed below freezing longer than expected.
About a quarter inch of ice was measured at the National Weather Service office on Thursday morning, according to meteorologist Bryce Williams. Many area schools were closed because of the ice, along with Eastern Washington University in Cheney and Gonzaga University in Spokane.
Troopers in the area said Wednesday they responded to 51 crashes on Highway 2 in a seven-hour span.
Snoqualmie Pass was forecast to get ice and another 2 to 5 inches of snow, bringing the storm total to nearly 15 inches. Snow and freezing rain were expected to taper off by 10 a.m.
Three to 5 inches of rain were forecast for the Olympics, also melting recent snow left throughout the region.
A wind advisory also will take effect 8 a.m. Friday and last until 3 p.m., as southwesterly winds from 20 to 35 miles per hour were expected throughout the Puget Sound basin, with gusts up to 50 mph.
The high winds likely will lead to downed limbs and local power outages, the advisory states.
“Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles,” the Weather Service advisory says. “Use extra caution.”
In the lowlands, any lingering snow was washed away Thursday by heavy rains, which are expected to continue through Friday and possibly Saturday.
The Weather Service also issued a flood watch for Pierce, Thurston, King, Mason and Lewis counties through Friday night. (See story on 3A.)
Forecasters said the snow level will drop from 6,500 feet to nearly 3,500 feet Thursday night and leftover lowland snow will contribute to the runoff.
“This could be enough rain to drive some rivers above minor flood stage,” according to the warning.
A coastal flood advisory also warns that Puget Sound and Hood Canal, among others, could be affected around high tide and possibly produce minor flooding on the shoreline.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653