LAKE WENATCHEE — Normally a boon to recreation, snowstorms here in the last week have brought too much of a good thing.
Heavy wet snow and resulting hazardous conditions have forced closure of three sno-parks in the area and shut down the eastside lanes of Highway 2 to the Stevens Pass ski resort, which announced curtailed operations for today and Christmas Day.
Sno-park closures include those at Fish Lake, Fish Lake Airstrip and the skier sno-park on Chiwawa Loop Road — bad news for snowmobilers and skiers hoping for some holiday fun at three of the busiest sno-parks in the state.
And more snow is expected Tuesday as a new winter storm blows across the area from the Pacific coast. An 80 to 90 percent chance of snow with an accumulation of up to 3 inches — along with chilly temperatures of 20 degrees or lower — is forecast for Christmas afternoon in the Wenatchee Valley.
The closures and curtailments follow repeated dumpings of wet snow in the last week that have downed hundreds of trees in the area and caused at least two tree-auto accidents, one fatal. Falling trees and heavy snow have also knocked out power to thousands of Chelan PUD customers in the Lake Wenatchee and Plain communities.
Officials with the Wenatchee River Ranger District and Chelan PUD have also asked snowmobilers and skiers to avoid use of the sno-parks and adjacent trails so emergency crews and equipment have clear access to power problems.
The Fish Lake and Airstrip sno-parks will remain closed until conditions improve, said Forest Service spokeswoman Susan Peterson.
For Stevens Pass, the east side closure of Highway 2 has meant that up to 70 percent of the facility’s 150 employees — many who live in Leavenworth — are cut off from reaching work at the resort, said Mike Duffield, night operations manager and a Leavenworth resident. He hasn’t been able to get to work since Saturday.
With smaller staff, Stevens Pass trimmed operations to be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. It’ll open at 9 a.m. Tuesday, with a closing time to be determined by weather and road conditions.
Mike Irwin: 665-1179