Snoqualmie Avalanches Leave One Missing, Three Hurt

Snoqualmie Pass, WA — Two avalanches on Snoqualmie Pass left one man missing and three people wounded. The twin avalanches took place on Saturday in the mountains east of Seattle.

Three people were initially reported missing, but officials changed that number to one snowshoer. One avalanche on Granite Mountain carried three showshoers more than 1,200 feet.

Sergeant Katie Larson of the King County Sheriff’s Office stated of the avalanches:

“One of the climbers tells me that they had no warning. The avalanche, at this point, from what he’s describing, is 30 feet wide, eight feet deep and about a quarter-mile long.”

Two men were able to emerge from the snow, but their friend, a 60-year-old man, remained missing on Saturday night. The second avalanche happened on Red Mountain near the Alpental Ski Area off I-90. A woman was hiking with her dog near a group of a dozen other people when the incident happened.

The woman was reported missing initially. She was unearthed from several feet of snow hypothermic and unable to walk. Her dog was fine. The third missing person was Chris Soun, who was in the large group of people. He reported seeing the avalanche hit and split his group. His friends discovered hum buried against a tree and were able to safely dig him out.

An avalanche meteorologist with the US Forest Service’s Northwest Avalanche Center predicted dangerous avalanche conditions on Saturday because of warmer daytime temperatures and more sunshine. The meteorologist, Garth Ferber, stated, “Spring skiing is a tradition here. April snowfall is common and susceptible to the effects of sun and daytime heating.”

Washington’s Cascade Mountain range is no stranger to avalanches, particularly deadly ones. The most devastating to date was the Wellington avalanche on March 1, 1910. The week’s snowfall trapped several trains at a depot on the west side of the old Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass.

The avalanche hit around 1 am and hit the railroad, throwing several cars off the tracks. Most of the passengers and crew were asleep aboard the trains. Ninety-six people were killed. The little town of Wellington was renamed Tye later that year in an attempt to remove the disaster from memory.

The last fatal avalanches happened on Stevens Pass and the Summit at Snoqualmie in February 2012. Four people were killed. Avalanches are common in the area around Spring.