By Bill Sheets
The gates are closed until spring on the North Cascades Highway.
Crews closed the highway last Tuesday in anticipation of snow expected in the mountains over the weekend, with the possibility of reopening the road before closing it again for the winter.
Today, though, forecasts of more snow and rain in the Cascades and an increasing threat of avalanches prompted the state to leave the highway closed.
Eight inches of new snow accumulated by noon today, and forecasts called for 4 inches more by evening, another 9 inches overnight and as many as 16 inches Tuesday, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Avalanche chutes would fill with snow and then rain could make them unstable, and it would be unsafe for road crews or drivers to be under them, state officials said.
he 37-mile winter closure zone on Highway 20 begins seven miles east of Diablo Dam at milepost 134 on the west side of Rainy Pass (elevation 4,855 feet) to nine miles west of Mazama at milepost 171 below Washington Pass (elevation 5,477).
Last spring, the highway reopened May 23, the second latest in the highway’s 39-year history. Highway 20 typically reopens between the last week in March and the first week in May.
Visit the state’s North Cascades Highway web page for more information.
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