Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Highway 20 Update

AAI just received the following email from the Washington State Department of Transportation:

There are more new photos from Monday's work on the flickr site and there's a special treat - SNOW DOUGHNUTS! By Tuesay, on the west side, they got to MP 154 (Swamp Creek) which is about 3-1/2 miles below Rainy Pass. The east side crew is busy cutting through the slides from the 11 avalanche chutes in the Cutthroat Ridge zone (MP 168-166, near Silver Star Mountain).

Last week, we made good progress with favorable weather and no equipment problems...until Thursday. When the snow started sliding and avalanche control became necessary on Stevens Pass, work had to stop on the east side. By law, our avalanche techs must monitor snow stability while the crews are working below active chutes. By Wednesday evening, they crew had gotten to CR1, but with the avalanche crew down on Stevens, no clearing work could be done Thursday. (So the Twisp crew spent the day doing regular maintenance from Winthrop to Loup Loup Pass.)

On Monday, Avalanche forecaster Mike Stanford showed up with the Avalanche crew's snow cat. While he kept an eye on the snow conditions, crews used it and an excavator to cut down the snow piled up below CR1. The Kodiak snow blower can take about an 8 foot “bite” and some of the snow slides through the Cutthroat Ridge zone are twice that deep. A second Kodiak snow blower from Stevens joined the effort on Tuesday.

By the end of Tuesday, they had cleared CR1 and CR2.

Today, the giant rental D-6 and D-8 caterpillars are traveling ahead up to the Liberty Bell Avalanche zone and to start cutting those huge snow piles down to size. We want that section ready for the snow blowers when they get that far, sometime next week.

Last week’s snow that hit the central Cascades hard didn’t dump as much in the northern Cascades and the weather today actually started out sunny, while it’s gone from two days of sunshine to overcast and foggy down on Stevens and Snoqualmie.
Obviously putting the snow shoe rabbit in charge and spotting some lucky snow doughnuts are good signs!

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