Weather and avalanche danger slowing mountain pass cleanup

SNOQUALMIE, WA.– Wind, snow, and avalanche danger on Friday slowed down road crews working to re-open the mountain passes that closed Wednesday night. All mountain passes over the Cascades remain closed Friday night with the earliest possible re-openings not until Sunday.

High winds gusting to 40 mph and periods of heavy snow hindered road crews on Snoqualmie, Stevens and White passes in Washington as well as Lookout Pass on the Idaho/Montana state line. Snoqualmie reported 26 inches of snow since Thursday on the pass and another four to eight inches possible Friday night for Snoqualmie and Stevens. High winds pose a danger to road crews because of the risk of falling trees, low visibility, and heightened avalanche danger.

On Stevens Pass, WSDOT says it’s dealing with extremely deep snow and may have to do more avalanche control operations on Saturday. So far crews on Highway 2 are focused on cutting a single lane through the deep snow.

Over White Pass on Highway 12, snowslides also mean snow plows and blowers are working through large drifts that are bigger than the equipment in some cases. Crews are forecasting another full day of work to clear the snow.

In North Idaho, the westbound lanes of Lookout Pass are closed after multiple avalanches on the Montana side of the pass. Eastbound lanes are snow-covered and slippery. Anyone traveling into Montana will have to divert from St. Regis to Sandpoint along Highway 200 to get back to the Inland Northwest. Re-opening is expected on Saturday at the earliest.

I-84 in Oregon and I-5 in Washington are open again after both were shut down on Friday morning because of flooding and landslides. This eight-hour route through the Tri-Cities and Portland is the quickest car route to Seattle from Spokane for at least the first half of the weekend.

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