After several days (90 hours) of being closed due to snow and crews working hard to clear the roads, Snoqualmie and Blewett passes have reopened, the Washington State Department of Transportation said Sunday evening.
White Pass was back open as of 3 p.m. Monday, but closed again around 5:30 p.m. WSDOT closed the pass due to rockslides and unstable slopes near the summit. The road will be closed overnight due to safety concerns and reevaluated in the morning.
Stevens Pass is expected to take longer to reopen, according to WSDOT.
All four major cross-state mountain passes closed early Thursday due to heavy snow and extreme weather conditions.
Hazardous conditions at the passes, including snowslides, falling trees, near-zero visibility and high avalanche concerns, led to the closures.
After starting work in safer locations Thursday into Friday morning, maintenance crews could safely make it into the pass areas to evaluate the conditions Friday afternoon.
Over the weekend, crews worked to clear the heavy snow, ensuring hillsides were stable from earlier avalanche concerns.
Overnight Thursday into Friday, WSDOT said 38 natural avalanches came down onto the roads at Snoqualmie Pass.
Crews also performed avalanche control work, which WSDOT said was a success at both Snoqualmie and Blewett passes. They were able to clear two narrow lanes across most of I-90 with shoulders, exit ramps and chain-up areas mostly impassable.
A reduced speed limit of 45 mph is in place, and traction tires are advised.
Not only did the weather conditions cause issues for Snoqualmie Pass, but local community roads were also affected, and WSDOT said drivers will need to prepare to cross the pass without stopping as there will be no safe areas to stop at.
At Stevens Pass, several snowslides produced areas of snow that stand up to 35 feet tall. WSDOT was able to open one lane to allow crews further access and may need to do avalanche control from a helicopter Monday after snow built up in rare locations. WSDOT said it is unlikely Stevens Pass will reopen before Wednesday, Jan. 12.
The last time all four passes were closed for an extended time was in January 2009 after flooding, slides and avalanches led to their closure, according to WSDOT.
©2022 Cox Media Group