WSDOT moves up avalanche cleanup on SR 20 North Cascades Highway

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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently evaluated the damage caused by an avalanche to determine a schedule for reopening State Route 20 North Cascades Highway.

The crews, from Twisp maintenance and WSDOT’s Avalanche team, successfully evaluated the Washington Pass Weather Station and made it fully operational again. This was possible thanks to good weather.

Officials plan to schedule the clearing work two weeks further in advance than usual. The winter closure zone was successfully assessed and fixed for an earlier time than usual.

The clearing work may be able to continue through late March, providing the weather is good. The next six weeks show that there should be a normal reopening for the route; the pass should be fully reopened in time for the lowland-lakes fishing season.

Compared with 2015, there is significantly more snowfall than last year. In 2015, there was 5 feet of snow at Rainy Pass, and this year, there has been 7.5 feet. At Whistler, there has been 5.5 feet of snow this year, while it only had 4 feet last year. Washington showed 5 feet of snowfall in 2015 and has seen 9.5 feet as of today.

In 2015, there was only light snowpack, allowing crews to reopen the pass quickly. They began their work on March 16 and were able to reopen the route on April 3.

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State of Washington Department of Transportation

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