STEVENS PASS — State transportation officials who feared U.S. 2 would remain closed between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass announced the passage had reopened late Tuesday.
The 35-mile stretch of highway was closed when trees crashed down on two cars and killed two people on Saturday.
At about 3:15 p.m. on Christmas, state transportation officials announced the highway was reopened to traffic.
The highway is one of two primary east-west routes through the mountains usually open during the winter.
Transportation spokesman Jeff Adamson told The Wenatchee World trees along the roadway were overloaded with snow and posed a hazard to drivers.
About 7,000 to 10,000 drivers cross Stevens Pass on a typical holiday and for much of Christmas, they had to cross the mountains on Snoqualmie and Blewett passes this year.
The Stevens Pass trees bent under snow that fell a week ago. The trees toppled because the ground wasn’t frozen solid enough yet to stabilize the trees under the heavy load, Adamson said.
The DOT’s maintenance supervisor for Stevens Pass has been working in that area for 30 years and had never seen conditions like he saw before the road reopened, he said.
Several days of freezing conditions would stabilize the tree roots, or very warm conditions will melt the snow and cause it to fall from the branches.
The National Weather Service in Spokane has forecast low temperatures in the teens and 20s through next weekend for the Lake Wenatchee area. But more snow is also predicted, with a 30 percent chance Wednesday.
See the WSDOT’s Stevens Pass report at http://tinyurl.com/ StevensPassUpdates.