Monday, December 7, 2015

Heavy rain, high winds and snow on their way

By Barbara LaBoe
Final update: Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 8:30 a.m.

Note: This blog is no longer being updated. Please check WSDOT's travel alerts website, Facebook page or Twitter accounts for current road conditions.

A series of significant wind and rain storms are predicted to strike western Washington this week, lasting through Friday and prompting flooding and high wind warnings in numerous locations. Major snowfall also is expected in the mountains and passes toward the end for the week and weekend.

If you must travel, be sure you and your vehicle are prepared and stay updated on conditions by tuning in to media broadcasts and checking our travel alerts page. If you encounter flooding, please remember these safety tips.

Here are the active closures that remain as of 11:30 a.m. Dec. 11. Updates to active closures will continue throughout the weekend and will be labeled "UPDATE" with a time and date. When a road reopens or situation is cleared, that will be indicated with "REOPENED," or "CLEARED."

Clark and Cowlitz Counties
  • I-5 Woodland - UPDATE 12:15 p.m. Dec. 12: Two lanes of northbound Interstate 5 north of Woodland will remain open with a single lane closed indefinitely. As debris clearing progressed from a recent landslide, geotechnical engineers from the Washington State Department of Transportation continued to monitor the stability of the slope and determined further analysis is needed before all lanes reopen to traffic. There is no risk of additional debris falling into the open lanes of travel because concrete barriers separate two lanes of I-5 from the work zone adjacent to the nearby hillside. WSDOT will install monitoring devices this weekend to track potential for further movement of the slope.
Cowlitz County
  • I-5 Kalama: CLEARED 12:30 p.m. Dec. 11: The northbound I-5 off-ramp to Kalama (exit 30) is closed due to flooding. Drivers should plan an alternate route.
King County
  • SR 18 Auburn - UPDATE 12:45 p.m. Dec. 11: The right lane of eastbound SR 18 near the Green River Bridge is closed due to a recent slide in the area. Engineers will monitor the slide this weekend to determine a plan for repair.
  • I-90 North Bend – REOPENED 9:12 a.m. Dec. 14: Eastbound I-90 has reopened at milepost 34 in North Bend following a closure due to heavy snow and a debris slide involving trees and large boulders across Snoqualmie Pass.
Lewis County
  • SR 131 SB - CLEARED 6:00 p.m. Dec. 13: Water over Roadway on SR 131 southbound at milepost 0.5 near Siler Creek to Hampton Rd has the road closed. There is also standing water at milepost 1.7 near the Cowlitz River. Use caution and alternate routes if known.
Lewis and Yakima Counties
  • US 12 in Lewis and Yakima Counties: REOPENED 8:30 a.m. Dec. 23: White Pass reopened at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 22, with one-lane traffic in two spots where temporary repairs were made to allow the road to reopen. Permanent repairs will be made this summer. Check the US 12 repairs page for updates.

    Details: Both directions of US 12 are closed between the junction of SR 123 (mp 138) and the upper intersection of Tieton Reservoir Road. There is a rockslide at milepost 165.5 below the Rimrock tunnel. US 12 is closed at Wildcat Creek Road (mp 165) until the slope can be assessed and clean up can be made. Tieton Reservoir Road can be accessed via US 12. Yakima County has informed WSDOT that the Tieton Reservoir Road is under normal wintertime operating conditions.
Yakima County
  •  SR 410 near Whistlin Jacks : CLEARED: SR 410 has water and rocks over the roadway at milepost 97 near Whistlin Jacks. Maintenance is moving equipment to clear the road. The closure point on SR 410 has been moved back to Bumping River road.

Storm Photos
US 12 washout at MP 143 where the Roadway continues to erode
Slide debris on I-5 Northbound near Woodland
I-5 Northbound near Woodland

Check this blog often, as we'll be updating it regularly with closure information.



Willard Hughes said...

Is southbound travel between Olympia and Portland restricted or only northbound?

Diane Taylor said...

Since there is such sever damage to Hwy 12 on the pass and no scheduled reopening in the near future, is there any way that hwy 410 could be kept open through the winter so that those of us on the west side don't have to go all the way north to I-90 or to Portland to get to Yakima. It would be a great alternate route even though it may require more snow removal. Thanks, Ellen

WSDOT said...

Willard Hughes, the only restrictions are in the northbound lanes – two are now reopened while one remains closed while crews work on repairs and clean up. Please use caution in the area, though, as other southbound travelers might slow to take a look at northbound work.

WSDOT said...

Diane Taylor, good question. Unfortunately, that's not an option because the avalanche risk is so high on Chinook Pass in the winter that's not safe for plow crews or for the general public.

The combination of avalanche danger, mountainous terrain, lack of cell phone service, inclement weather and relatively few vehicles on the roads make driving these passes in the winter a potentially hazardous endeavor. If someone had a problem, such as sliding off the road, it could take hours or days for anyone to find them. Our recent snow and rain would make the risk even higher.

We know people depend on these passes, but our first obligation always is to ensure roads are safe to travel and we ask for the public's patience in such situations.

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