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Is it worth calling in sick to ski pow? Did it change to rain, or stay snow? Should I bug out of work early to night ski? Webcams can help answer these questions. Here are my top 5, with a bias toward Seattle/Eastside-based people and usefulness for making decisions, not inspiring views:

1. Snoqualmie Pass at I-90. My own traffic would justify a huge ad buy on this page. This cam faces West on the highway. While it points somewhat down, so you can’t see what’s up on the hills, if it’s snowing on the screen, it’s on. There are plenty of times when it’s raining here and snowing at the base of Alpental or slightly above, but if it’s snowing here, it’s snowing everywhere. Added benefit: knowing if the pass is actually open. Backup: The Hyak cam points west and give you a view of Alpental and Central in clear weather, and is a solid backup if the Snoqualmie Pass cam is covered in snow, ice, or is just broken.

2. East Stevens Summit. This is basically the Stevens version of the Snoqualmie cam: No mountain views, but the road conditions are telling: Rain on the camera: hit the snooze button or have another beer.

3. Paradise East. Some might argue that the Mountain cam is better as it shows the upper mountain and meadow just above the lot, but that view if frequently socked in in the fall and early winter when you’re looking for detailed snow level data. The Paradise East view not only provides some depth perception thanks to any car as well as the guide and ranger shacks, but you can the bastards who got the day off and are skiing while you’re at work. The bonus is that Paradise East, in good visibility, also shows a bit of Mazama Ridge, to give you a solid idea of snow levels.

4. Crystal Mountain Gold Hills. Yes, it’s up high enough to be in the clouds quite a bit, but with decent visibility, you get a perfect view of the snow level at the resort across the valley. Probably the best overall view from a web cam of any Washington ski area.

5. Timberline Lodge. This is the lift jockey’s version of Paradise East. It’s a clutch in early and late-season. Facing the upper mountain, this cam can help make the call if it’s going to be worth driving the INSUFFERABLE 4 hours from Seattle to lift-ski the first or last puffs of pow. An aside: Hood might be prettiest of the volcanoes from a distance, a shimmering white pyramid gleaming above the Columbia River. Up close, the upper mountain looks like the leftovers of a mining project that was looking for the shittiest rock on the planet.

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