Thursday, February 7, 2008

Snow, Snow go away...

Amazing, just incredible, three passes closed at once. Snoqualmie, Stevens and White pass all closed due to the avalanche danger and avalanches that have come down across the road.

Any historians out there know when that last happened?
Answer: 1996, Stevens Pass was closed for 66 hours, White pass was closed for 71 horus and Snoqualmie pass was closed for 84.5 hours.

Crews got a short break the last couple of days but are back in action clearing snow off the roadway and hillsides and making it safe for travel.

Here are some interesting stats for I-90 Snoqualmie pass:

By the Numbers (2/8/08) as of 8 a.m.:
12 inches today
70.5 inches of snow in February
390 inches for the winter so far
See how this compares to historical snowfall depths.

Avalanche control work from last night:
19 shots with the artillery rifle = 95 pounds of explosives
10 shots at the six avalanche zones on the pass = 285 pounds of explosives

Closures so far on the pass this winter:
146 hours and 35 minutes for the eastbound lanes
126 hours and 14 minutes for the westbound lanes

Crews and equipment at pass today:
Operators: 31
Plows: 25
Graders: 6
Blowers: 6

While plow drivers and avalanche crews are taking care of the conditions on the mountain, only a handful of WSDOT mechanics are taking care of the equipment. As one shift ends and another one starts, mechanics only have a few minutes to take a look at equipment and make sure things are running smoothly. You might be surprised to know that during a huge winter storm our mechanics aren't busy. They are anxiously waiting for the storms to subside so they can get their hands on the dozens of plows and blowers. Our mechanics are the one's who work behind the scenes to change oil, make repairs, change tires and anything else that needs to be repaired before our knights in the green and yellow hit the road to clear the snow.

One of the decision points that they are facing a challenge with right now is with the estimating re-opening time for the passes. Whenever possible we are trying to make it easier for you to know when the pass will re-open by giving an estimated opening time. Unfortunately it's only an estimate, mother nature doesn't always agree.

This morning we tried to announce that Snoqualmie pass would re-open at 6:30 am. Once they got the road clear they found numerous obstacles that prolonged the opening time. A broken guardrail that needed to be fixed, a truck stuck in the left side of the road and they are running out of places to put snow on I-90. They had to put snow from the westbound lanes into the eastbound lanes then from there off the highway. That's why the westbound lanes opened first.

We have some great new photos still coming in from workers on the passes that we are posting on our Flickr site. Amazing shots continue to come in of Chinook pass and White Pass.

Just in (Feb. 8th): We posted some video of what Stevens pass looked like the early morning of Feb 7th. There were wind gusts of near 100mph!


Anonymous said...

The WSDOT on the pass rock!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your hard work!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your hard work!!!!

Nguyen Le Hieu said...

Thank you for all your hard work to keep these road open!!!

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