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Holiday rain in Tri-Cities, snow for travelers

A colorful sunset reflects off the calm waters of the Columbia River Monday evening as a sailboat motors upriver towards the blue bridge.
A colorful sunset reflects off the calm waters of the Columbia River Monday evening as a sailboat motors upriver towards the blue bridge. Tri-City Herald

Here’s one more thing to bring if you are heading to Seattle for Thanksgiving: plenty of patience.

Expect a mix of heavy traffic on Interstate 90 and snow on Snoqualmie Pass.

The National Weather Service predicts a 70 percent chance of snow showers Wednesday on Snoqualmie Pass, after up to three inches of snow Tuesday night.

Another three to seven inches of snow are forecast on Thanksgiving, with more snow expected each day through the weekend.

Because of the predicted storms, Chinook and Cayuse passes in Mount Rainier National Park will temporarily close at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The state Department of Transportation will re-evaluate conditions next week. The mountain passes usually close for the year in late November because of hazardous driving conditions.

The Tri-Cities should get a break from the rain Wednesday, after rain showers forecast Tuesday night. Partly sunny skies and breezes are expected Wednesday by the weather service.

A 30 percent chance of rain is forecast for Thanksgiving, with more breezy weather, followed by a chance of rain each day through the weekend. Cloudy skies should keep temperatures warm for late November.

Lows should be in the 40s, dropping to the 30s by the weekend, but remaining above freezing. Highs should be in the high 40s to low 50s. The Tri-Cities usually ends November with highs of about 44 and lows of about 32.

1.06 million Washington residents plan to travel for Thanksgiving

If you are traveling, expect plenty of company.

AAA predicts about 1.06 million people in Washington are expected to hit the roads this holiday weekend, about 10,000 more than last year.

An improving economy paired with low gas prices are encouraging more people to travel over the holiday, said Dan Coon, spokesman for AAA in Seattle.

Travel on Interstate 90 to Seattle is expected to peak at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Travelers can expect congestion and possibly stop-and-go traffic from Cle Elum to North Bend, according to WSDOT.

Return traffic is expected to be heavy noon to 3 p.m. Sunday on the same stretch of I-90.

Travelers can check for information — including requirements for traction tires or chains — on Snoqualmie Pass at bit.ly/1aE4MG6 or by calling 511.

They should be prepared with gloves, boots and warm clothes in case they need to put on chains. WSDOT also recommends a full tank of gas, flares, a flashlight and a cellphone charger for any winter travel. A checklist is posted at bit.ly/2fncaPf.

WSDOT also is looking ahead to Friday’s Apple Cup at Washington State University, expecting highly congested roads as travelers approach Pullman.

Travelers will want to allow extra travel time to make the 12:30 p.m. kickoff, according to the Washington State Patrol. Showers are likely in Pullman, according to the weather service.

The Yakima Herald-Republic contributed to this story.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews

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