I-90 reopens; long delays possible

SPOKANE — I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass, closed for most of the week by heavy snowfall and avalanche danger, reopened this morning after crews worked through the night to clear avalanche paths.

Transportation officials believe the road is safe from avalanches, for now. Still, drivers can expect snow and ice across all lanes of I-90 Saturday near the pass. Chains are required for all vehicles.

Don Whitehouse, Transportation Department south-central regional administrator, termed Friday’s avalanche control efforts “tremendously successful.”

On Thursday, “our avalanche risk on the pass was extreme,” he said. “After today’s efforts, it has been reduced to a low-to-moderate risk at the roadway level.”

Before the pass reopened today, the state’s main east-west traffic route across the Cascade Range had been closed for all but six hours Tuesday.

On Friday, crews cleared 30 avalanche paths by detonating 365 pounds of explosives, Whitehouse said.

Since the series of storms began last Sunday, avalanche control experts have used a total of 1,500 pounds of explosives to cause avalanches. Additional snow blowers from other areas of the state have been brought in to help remove the dislodged snow.

The pass closure was the longest since a storm shut down traffic over the pass for about 84 hours between Dec. 28, 1996, and Jan. 2, 1997, DOT spokeswoman Alice Fiman said.

More than 5 feet of snow has fallen on the pass during the storms. The Transportation Department said Friday morning that 19 inches had fallen at the pass in the previous 24 hours, and the National Weather Service forecast up to 20 inches more by early today.

Snow depth on 3,022-foot-high Snoqualmie Pass was 130 inches, or 165 percent of the average Feb. 1 seasonal amount, weather service meteorologist Dennis D’Amico in Seattle said earlier Friday.

The extreme weather closed a 70-mile stretch of I-90 from North Bend east across the mountains to Ellensburg. Windblown snow kept many roads and schools closed Friday in Eastern Washington, including Washington State University in Pullman and the University of Idaho in nearby Moscow.

The long shutdown of I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass disrupted the state’s economy, Gregoire and other officials said. Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said 7,000 trucks cross the pass each day, about one-quarter of total traffic on the pass.

“We know these truckers have been waiting,” Whitehouse said earlier. “We know what this is doing to the economy.”

State officials had no estimate on how much the closures might have cost the state each day.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A Sound Transit train arrives at Westlake Station in downtown Seattle. (Sue Misao / Herald file) May 2019
Should light rail skip Paine Field and Boeing? We asked, you answered

More than 300 Herald readers responded to an online poll. Here are the results.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Lynnwood City Council members, from left: Jim Smith, Shirley Sutton, Shannon Sessions, Josh Binda, George Hurst, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, and Patrick Decker. (City of Lynnwood)
No penalty for Lynnwood council member’s ‘underinformed’ views on racism

The City Council didn’t censure Jim Smith after a report found he discriminated against a Black city employee.

All ears: Mukilteo couple provides surgery for kids born without ears

Dr. Prabhat and Trish Bhama are part of a HUGS volunteer team providing treatment for microtia in Guatemala.

Conceptual rendering for a future section of Smokey Point Boulevard between 174th Place NE and 200th Street NE. (City of Arlington)
Plan seeks to transform Smokey Point Blvd. into ‘neighborhood corridor’

City officials hope roundabouts, sidewalks and more will turn 2 miles of busy road into a neighborhood street.

Genghin Carroll, 8, walks up and high fives his mom Andria Carroll after riding the ferry over to meet her for a dental appointment on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Welcome aboard, kids! Ferry rides are free for those 18 and under

The move to let children ride ferries for free is the latest result of Move Ahead Washington legislation.

Judge Paul Thompson, left, with Strom Peterson and his wife Maria Montalvo after being is sworn in Wednesday afternoon at the Snohomish County Administration Building in Everett, Washington on September 29, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
State Rep. Peterson appointed to Snohomish County Council

Carin Chase had by far the most supporters present Thursday, but it was Strom Peterson who won the council’s unanimous vote.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. All public and private schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties must close for six weeks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Police: Student, 15, arrested with loaded gun at Edmonds high school

Around 1 p.m., students reported a classmate with a gun at Edmonds-Woodway High School.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Police: Purse snatching in Everett park led to stabbing

A Snohomish woman, 36, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

Most Read