Not sure what all of washinton is like, but the snow in the vancouver area really sucked when I was there! I hate to sound like a whiner but it was crusty/slushy/sticky. Even the "powder" was heavy... Whistler wasn't as bad, but still not good, and that was in late January.
Well I think wet and heavy what generally comes to mind when describing PNW snow. Got two pow days at Stevens this year where the moisture level in the snow was way less than normal and it was rad. Plus I made a trip to Bachelor where its a bit more arid. Riding was a lot easier and I had legs to try and push it all day. My firend from Utah came out and rode here for the first time and he felt the same way you did.
We get a lot of snow so I'm not complaining.