High avalanche warning in effect as heavy snow falls in the Mount Baker wilderness

A monster snowstorm is burying the North Cascades east of Bellingham, prompting an avalanche warning and concerns about other hazards in the Mount Baker wilderness.

“An atmospheric river pattern along the Washington coast will bring in continued heavy mountain snow heavy lowland rain, and breezy winds through Thursday,” the National Weather Service said online.

In response to the storm, the Northwest Avalanche Center issued an avalanche warning for the west slopes of the North Cascades.

Mt. Baker Ski Area was open Wednesday and reported 31 inches of snow in the past 24 hours. Another 8 inches of snow was possible through Thursday, the weather service said.

Ski area officials were doing avalanche control, according to their social media.

In addition, the ski area was warning that variable snow base conditions are present, along with the risk of falling into deep snow around trees.

“Snow suffocation hazard due to deep snow immersion and/or tree wells may exist. Avoid tree wells and keep your partner in sight,” the ski area said on its website.

Mount Baker Highway was open Wednesday with compact snow and ice on the road. Chains were required on all cars and trucks except those with all-wheel drive.