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You can reach Whidbey Island by heading north from Seattle or south from the Canadian border on I-5, west on Highway 20 onto Fidalgo Island, and south across Deception Pass Bridge. Interstate 5 is the main north-south route through western Whatcom and Skagit counties. Highway 542 winds east from Bellingham to Mt. Baker. Highway 20 heads east from Burlington to Sedro-Woolley and continues on through the North Cascades to the Methow and Okanogan valleys, and across the northeastern mountains to the Idaho state line near Newport.
Snow falls in the mountains from October or November until as late as May, and makes driving extremely hazardous. Highway 20 is usually closed (because of avalanche danger) from November through April. Stevens Pass faces intermittent closures for avalanche control (the avalanches are dislodged with howitzer shells; snow sliding onto the highway is cleared by plows). Every few winters it snows in the lowlands as well. Although the snow never lasts for more than a few days, snow tires and even chains may be required for driving even on I-5. If snow melt (which can occur at any time during the winter) coincides with heavy rain, lowland roads may flood. If the highways are closed for more than a few hours, local shelters aid stranded motorists.
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