Monday, May 19, 2008

Breaking News -- Highway 20 to Re-Open!

The American Alpine Institute office just received the following email from the WDOT:
  • While the avalanche chutes are stable now, snow slide clean up on the North Cascades Highway will delay reopening the road until 3 p.m. tomorrow. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Okanogan Maintenance Superintendent Dean Hills says avalanche crews found one large slide below Liberty Bell Mountain, just east of Washington Pass (LB#3). Heavy, wet snow containing large rocks and tree debris is covering 200-feet of the highway to a depth of 25 to 35 feet. “Crews are working there now, but it’s going to take until tomorrow to clear it,” said Hills, “with the rocks and debris, we can’t use the snow blowers.” Hills said they also need to repair a sinkhole and clear about a half dozen clogged culverts, “Several avalanche chutes released and dumped snow and rocks on the shoulders and other chutes melted,” he said, “ It’s pretty stable now. The avalanche crew put up 18 charges this morning, using a portable howitzer, and nothing significant came down.”

  • At 2 p.m., it was sunny and 79 degrees on the east side at Mazama and overcast and 76 degrees on the west side in Newhalem. There are still 5-and-a-half feet of snow on the shoulders of the highway at Washington Pass. This afternoon’s 54 degrees is well below Saturday’s 68 degree high temperature at 5,500 feet. “The forecast is for the temperatures to continue to cool which will keep any snow still up there, stable,” said Hills. The freezing level is expected to drop to 9,000 feet tonight and down to 3,500 feet Tuesday night.

  • WSDOT closed the highway from Diablo (MP 134) to Silver Star Creek (MP 171) at noon last Thursday when a snow slide covered the highway below Liberty Bell Mountain (LB#2).

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