High avalanche risk forces closure of multiple passes in Washington

The closures have seriously disrupted travel.

Multiple passes have been closed in the state of Washington due to a high risk of avalanche conditions, officials say. 

U.S. 2 at Stevens Pass, U.S. 12 at White Pass and I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass were closed Sunday, February 21st at 6 p.m. and US 20 at milepost 120 was added to the list a short while later. 

According to KIRO 7 News, White Pass reopened at 10 a.m. and Snoqualmie Pass is estimated to reopen at around noon. Stevens Pass is expected to be reevaluated at around 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon, and there is no estimated time for the reopening of Highway 20. 

Avalanche experts say the state has not experienced this many avalanche closures in many years.

“The easiest way to think about it is strong over weak. We got good snowball making snow coming in or rain falling over cold snow,” stated one of the avalanche experts, pointing out that an avalanche during the road closures would actually be a good thing, as it would remove the threat for “bad snow” during a time where no one was in the area. 

“I don’t know if we’ll be out of the woods but, in some ways, we’ll be able to put some of these deeper, weaker layers to rest.”

While travel has been disrupted by the closures, truckers say they will stay put until they can continue safely. 

“I will just take a break and wait for the safety of the road. We’ll just wait and see,” said one driver interviewed by KIRO 7.