Thursday, January 21, 2016

I-90 Snoqualmie Pass closed most of day Thursday

Closures on US 2 as well; check often for updates

By Mike Allende

Update: 8:15 p.m. I-90 is open both directions. Traction tires advised.

Update: I-90 will reopen at 8 p.m. tonight.

Update: 4:15 p.m.: Depending on weather conditions we are tentatively planning to reopen both directions of I-90 Snoqualmie Pass at 9 p.m. tonight.

Drivers planning on heading over Snoqualmie Pass should make other plans today, Thursday, Jan. 21 as I-90 will be closed most of the day between North Bend and Ellensburg (mileposts 34 to 106) due to significant avalanche danger.

But that’s not all. Both directions of US 2 east of Stevens Pass, between Tumwater Canyon (milepost 99) and Coles Corner (milepost 84) are also closed due to high avalanche danger. A detour is set up via the Chumstick Highway for all traffic except vehicles over 10,000 gross vehicle weight.

We have no estimated time for either roadway to reopen as heavy rain and snowfall is expected throughout the day. The National Weather Service is predicting 3 to 8 inches of new snow in the Cascades with high avalanche danger at all levels of the Cascades throughout the day.

Snow is also falling on US 12 White Pass with compact snow and slush on the roadway. Areas of the pass are reduced to one lane for repairs with a traffic light directing traffic through. If you use White Pass as an alternate route to get east-west, expect delays. You can stay updated on mountain pass conditions on our website.

Another option to get over the Cascades, especially if you’re down south, is using I-84 along the Columbia River near Portland. You can then connect with I-82 up into the Tri-Cities.

Remember last winter, when we were begging for snowfall? Seems a long time ago, right? We’ve had to close the passes countless times this season as we’re coming off one of our snowiest Decembers. Our maintenance crews have been working tirelessly to try to keep the roadways clear and safe for travelers.

In this case, significant snow fell on Snoqualmie Pass overnight Wednesday into Thursday, with snow continuing to fall during the day. The snow is wet and heavy. The freezing level is also expected to rise significantly, which will create warmer conditions on the pass. All of that is a dangerous recipe for avalanches.

Our crews will be doing avalanche control work on both US 2 and I-90 throughout the day, but until we can be confident there’s no danger to drivers (and our workers), we have to keep the roadways closed.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the day on this on this blog but also be sure to stay engaged by following our @WSDOT, @SnoqualmiePass, @wsdot_passes and @WSDOT_East accounts on Twitter and checking our Facebook page. If you must travel over the mountains, be sure you and your car are prepared, check our travel alerts frequently, download our mobile app and tune in to media broadcasts.


King to Kittitas Counties
  • I-90 Snoqualmie Pass
    UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.: Depending on weather conditions we are tentatively planning to reopen both directions of I-90 Snoqualmie Pass at 9 p.m. tonight.
    Both directions of I-90 are closed from North Bend (milepost 34) to Ellensburg (milepost 106) due to high avalanche danger.
Chelan County
  • US 2 Stevens Pass
    COMPLETE 10:25 a.m. Jan. 21: Both directions of US 2 Stevens Pass will be closed at 9 a.m. for avalanche control. Eastbound traffic will be stopped at milepost 70, six miles east of the Stevens Pass summit, and westbound traffic will stop at milepost 72. These closures typically take 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete.
  • US 2 Tumwater Canyon
    UPDATE 3:13 p.m. Jan. 21: Both directions of US 2 in Tumwater Canyon will remain closed overnight Thursday due to ongoing heavy precipitation and avalanche danger. Conditions will be reevaluated at daylight Friday.
  • Both directions of US 2 from Tumwater Canyon (milepost 99) to Coles Corner (milepost 84) are closed due to heavy precipitation and high avalanche danger. There is no estimate for when the road will reopen. A detour is in place via Chumstick Highway with vehicles over 10,000 gross vehicle weight prohibited except for local deliveries.
Skagit County
  • SR 20 Rockport
  • Both directions of SR 20 near SR 530 (mileposts 94-95) are blocked due to landslide danger and an unstable slope following significant precipitation. There is a detour via SR 530 but drivers should add plenty of extra time to their trips. The roadway is not expected to reopen until Friday when crews can reassess the hillside safely.