Better Late Than Never....

Better Late Than Never....
SEATTLE - It's almost as if Mother Nature has made a game-winning half-court shot at the buzzer...

After a winter of seemingly endless sunshine and inevitable water problems, Mother Nature comes through in the clutch with a series of cool, moist weather systems that has done wonders to our mountain snowpack situation.

Stevens Pass announced Thursday that it will re-open this weekend for limited operations on Saturday, Apr. 2 and Sunday, Apr. 3.

In addition, Snoqualmie Summit ski resort announced that Summit West will reopen on Friday through Sunday and Alpental will open on Saturday and Sunday. Snoqualmie received 15 inches of new snow in the past couple of days.

Mount Baker Ski Area announced normal midweek operations and planned to have all lifts running this weekend with an expected snow base of 100 inches. Operators also plans to be open daily through April 11 and on weekends for the rest of April.

"The jet stream has finally shifted," operators said in a news release. "Our snowpack, as of today, is the highest of the season."

At Crystal Mountain near Mount Rainier, closed for weeks, marketing director Stacy Schuster said the slopes would reopen Saturday through April 10. They are reporting a base of 59 inches -- after being at a paltry 15 inches on Mar. 15.

The White Pass ski area, last open Jan. 17, likely will have full operations after reopening Saturday for a week, spokeswoman Kathleen Goyette said. They're up to a whopping 78 inch base after reporting ZERO inches on Mar. 15.

Other ski areas are still mulling their options, but the forecast remains promising for additional snow. Wax 'em up!

But before the moisture reached the mountains as snow, it came as rain, hail, and lightning here in the lowlands.

Much of the state was cloudy and wet Tuesday, and winds gusted to more than 30 mph in such varied spots as Bremerton, the Hanford nuclear reservation, Hoquiam, Moses Lake, Pasco, Pullman, Walla Walla and Wenatchee.

Scattered electrical outages were reported on Camano Island and about 3,000 people were in the dark briefly Tuesday night in the Lake Stevens area, southwest Arlington and the Pinehurst area of south Everett, said Mike Thorne, a spokesman for the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

Hail and lightning were reported in parts of Western Washington. We received digital photos of hail coating the ground in White Center, Port Orchard and Edmonds. A KOMO newsroom employee living in the city of Snoqualmie reported hail accumulations of 1-3 inches, saying it looked like it had just snowed.

As for lightning, we only saw one lightning shot from our tower camera atop the Columbia Tower. Yet it was a doozy -- striking the top of the Space Needle (shortly after the rainy photo on the left was captured. Unfortunately, by then, the Needle was obscured by rain and clouds, so it looked like the lightning bolt to nowhere.)

Now, lightning hitting the Space Needle is not particularly rare -- at least, in the sense that while thunderstorms are fairly rare here, when they do occur, the Needle is a favorite target, due to its height.

And the engineers at the Space Needle were ready. They designed the top to have 25 lightning rods (24 on the rim plus the main tower) to safely channel the energy away. Still, probably made those eating a late lunch jump a bit.

Back up in the mountains, Washington 20, the North Cascades highway, remained closed Tuesday because of snow slides, and crews were unable to work on reopening it.

The state Transportation Department extended the deadline for removing studded tires to April 11 from midnight Thursday but asked that motorists who don't plan any mountain driving remove studded tires now to reduce wear and tear on the roads.

Traction tires were required through early Wednesday on major mountain passes, including Interstate 90 through Snoqualmie Pass, the state's principal east-west route.

The Associated Press contributed to this report