Update | WA Passes Still Buried in Snow

Published 1/9/2022 1720 PT

WASHINGTON STATE

BLEWETT PASS

OPENED on 1/9/2022 at 1700 hours – Freight traffic will be Priority

Blewett Pass was reopened on Sunday at 1700 hours, with drivers required to reduce their speeds down to the minimum of 45-mph. Traction tires are advised. Lanes and shoulders are narrow.

WSDOT stated freight was the priority to get moving while encouraging all other recreational vehicles and general traffic should continue to delay their traveling.

SNOQUALMIE PASS

OPENED on 1/9/2022 at 1700 hours – Freight traffic will be Priority

After the pass has been closed for almost four days, the WSDOT reopened the roadway at 1700 hours today, which is great news for the freight operators. However, speeds have been reduced down to 45-mph with traction tires advised.

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Snoqualmie Pass

The traveling public is strongly encouraged to DELAY their travels until roads are more cleared. Officials say they are allowing freight/cargo trucks as a priority to help get the economy moving again.

WSDOT officials are asking drivers to sloooooow down and try not to be INDY 500 drivers because due to narrow roadways and shoulders, you and everyone else is going to be stuck up there until help can reach you during your time of need.

Just imagine yourself being stuck inside the 99 Tunnel in Seattle, where the lanes are narrow and the shoulders are very narrow. Yikes!

STEVENS PASS

CLOSED until Wednesday

The WSDOT updated the reopening schedules for all four passes, but this one still remains closed until Wednesday.

There are still mounds of snow, they are working to clear while continuing to prepare to work around the clock another day.

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Credit: Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass began to have challenges as early as January 6th, when snow began to fall, forcing the closure of Highway 2. As of this afternoon, the pass is still suffering from continued roadway closures and power outages, therefore, closing the ski area until at least Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

WHITE PASS

CLOSED until Monday Afternoon

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White Pass snow clearing operations

Officials state White Pass is due to reopen late Monday afternoon as crews continue to clear heavy and deep snow from roadways.

Photo Credits | All photos in this post are not ours and we do not lay claim to them. Photo Credits: WSDOT, WSDOT-Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, and Blewett Pass, unless otherwise noted.

(c) 2022 NW Fire Blog

Update | WA Passes Still Buried in Snow

Published 1/9/2022 1400 hours PT

WASHINGTON STATE — As of Sunday early afternoon, Washington mountain passes were still closed even after WSDOT workers have been working around the clock to clear many feet of snow. Here is an update of the current situation on our roadways around the State.

BLEWETT PASS

WSDOT released a statement around 1315 hours PT on Sunday afternoon, that Blewett Pass is slated to be reopened later this afternoon but no ETA was given.

This is great news for freight companies and travelers!

SNOQUALIMIE PASS

A mountain pass road with two lanes has a large snow plow truck working underneath a large overhead sign that is covered in snow. On each side of the road are huge amounts of snow and there are tons of snow-covered tall trees in the distance.
Snoqualmie Pass

As of 1255 hours PT, the WSDOT states their main goal today is to get the pass reopened but they are still working to clear massive amounts of deep snow from sides of the freeway and roadways. They don’t have ETA as to when that will occur and they are asking drivers not to wait by gates for another update

STEVENS PASS

A avalanche crew member stands in the cleared section near a stabilized snow slide for size reference on US 2 Stevens Pass.
Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass WSDOT workers continue to try to clear out the deep snow that remains on roadways and are working through several additional challenges as well. In addition to trying to plow off snow, they are working to resolve their power and cell phone outages a slab of four inches of ice on top of cleared lanes.

They are bringing in extra equipment to knock down the slides before they can start clearing off the rest of the snow. They have been working tirelessly for the last several days.

An update by Officials says Stevens Pass and nearby Tumwater Canyon will likely not reopen before Wednesday of this week. Ice is about four inches thick on Stevens Pass with snow slides 60-70 feet high!

WHITE PASS

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White Pass snow clearing operations

Officials state White Pass is due to reopen late Monday afternoon as crews continue to clear heavy and deep snow from roadways.

Photo Credits | All photos in this post are not ours and we do not lay claim to them. Photo Credits: WSDOT, WSDOT-Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, and Blewett Pass.

(c) 2022 NW Fire Blog

WA Passes Still Struggle With Snow

Published 1/8/2022 1550 PT

WASHINGTON STATE — Mountain Passes around the State are still struggling with too much of a good thing and crews are working tirelessly to clear all the feet of snow. Here is a recap of what has been happening in the last 24 hours.

BLEWETT PASS

Avalanche Specialists and crews mitigated hazards on the pass recently, when they successfully performed avalanche control operations by using artillery or explosives to trigger a snow slide.

According to their website, Avalanche Explosive Experts used various delivery methods to reach the intended target area(s) to place explosives, which some e of these techniques used would include placing by hand, using cable-pully bomb trams, or with surplus military weapons.

The WSDOT state they also use passive control methods to manage snow slides to include elevated roadways so avalanches pass under them and into basins to halt the avalanche before snow reaches the highway. Additionally, diversion dams and snow berms to keep the snow off the highway are also used as prevention methods.

Another plow from the Davenport area along with crews has also been dispatched to this pass to assist with snow clearing operations. Officials are hoping this Pass will reopen on Sunday but won’t have a clear definitive answer until they conduct a reassessment late Sunday morning.

SNOQUALMIE PASS

Snoqualmie Pass.

WSDOT maintenance crews are currently using plows, blowers, and graders to clear snow to ensure hillsides are safe and stable from avalanche hazards. Additionally, they are busy clearing catch basins to enable melting snow and rain to drain properly.

Fact | As of January 7th, the Pass had received 12 inches of snowfall with a total season amount of 286 inches, which has surpassed its 5-year season average to date at 148.2 inches!

WSDOT officials say their Spokane shop’s tow plow, the Plowie McPlow Plow has been temporarily moved to this pass to assist with plow operations.

Plowie McPlow Plow crews from Spokane and Davenport.

Fact | US 2 Tumwater Canyon, east of the Pass impacts Stevens from opening has had 208 snow slides in the Canyon, which is about 25 slides per mile!

The pass is hopefully on schedule and to be reopened on Sunday but officials won’t know until late morning when they do a reassessment of current conditions.

Officials due to the extremely hazardous conditions, Stevens Pass are saying this stretch of roadway is most likely not due to reopen until Tuesday of next week. Crews continue to work and reassess conditions often.

Snoqualmie Pass is located in both King County and Kittitas County and is a mountain pass, in which I-90 through the Cascade Range, and its summit is at the elevation of 3,015 feet. The area is said to have a population of 366 but with it being closed, it could have a higher occupation due to stranged motorists, truckers, and skiers, alike.

STEVENS PASS

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Stevens Pass.

Stevens Pass has had several snow slides with new depths upwardly to 30-35 feet in some places.

Fact | The WSDOT stated some blower cuts were 16 feet deep!

One lane has been opened to allow crews to access avalanche control and clearing of snow. Due to high stacks of snow, Officials are looking at possibly using a helicopter on Monday to help mitigate hazards that have built up.

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Blowering cutting through all that white stuff.

Power is currently out (as of 1500 hours) and hard-working crews worked their magic to dig out one of their generators.

Fact | Stevens Pass was named after John Frank Stevens, the first non-indigenous person to discover the area.

Due to special permission and approval by safety officials, a Chelan County PUD worker was allowed in the impact to start making repairs but crew members are said to be communicating by radio for a while. This is one way of dealing with the snow incidents all over the state and they are well-prepared.

Stevens Pass is a mountain pass that carries motorists on Highway 2 through the Cascade Mountains at the border of King and Chelan Counties. The max elevation is 5,845 feet.

A WSDOT crew member shovels out the radio generator shed from under feet of snow.
Co. PUD worker begins repairs on power outage on Stevens Pass.

WHITE PASS

Another Pass is closed not from avalanche threats but due to heavy loads of snow and debris, as well as trees, rocks, and other debris which has fallen onto the roadway.

Fact | White Pass is about 12 miles southeast of Mt. Rainier National Park at the summit, a national scenic byway.

Crews have been busy trying to clear roadways as quickly as possible but Officials say even though an excavator has been brought in to assist, this Pass is due to not be opened until Monday of next week. Another Sunday update will be released after an assessment has been completed.

View of a snow slide blocking SR 971 on the south lake shore of Lake Chelan.

At this time of this update released, crews were able to gain access to a now stabilized roadway on SR971 near Chelan which was considered unstable and has 10-plus feet of now. With so much snow, an ETA to reopen this road to drivers is unknown.

White Pass is also known a the Dead Horse Trail with an elevation of 4,500 feet, is a mountain pass in the Cascade Range of Washington, southeast of Mount Rainier and north of Goat Rocks. The Pass is on Highway 12 which if you head over the pass, will connect you with Yakima County on the east side with Lewis County. The Pass is also home to the White Pass Ski Area, which is located approximately 53 miles west of Yakima and 54 miles east of Morton.

Photo Credits | All photos in this post are not ours and we do not lay claim to them. Photo Credits: WSDOT, WSDOT-Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, and Blewett Pass.

(c) 2022 NW Fire Blog

Crystal Mtn Avalanche Kills 1,

Published 12/11/2021 1415 PT | Saturday

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Credit | PCSO

PIERCE COUNTY, WASHINGTON — At 1050 hours PT this morning, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office was notified of an avalanche in Silver Basin on Crystal Mountain’s backcountry area, where six skiers were pulled from underneath the avalanche.

All were pulled from the snow and their conditions were unknown. However, there was one fatality reported.

Crystal Mountain is one of Washington State’s biggest resorts with 2,600 acres of snow-covered terrain. They had a late start and added some natural snow to the ground until the real stuff began falling from the big sky.

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Shot this morning on GoPro – Credit: Vivika Stamolis

The Resort is now reporting snow piling up and winds are coming in strong.

The Mt. Rainier Gondola was not operating today due to winds reaching a whopping 100-mph at the summit. Isn’t that the same for a tornado? Crazy.

(c) 2021 NW Fire Blog

Avalanche Prompts SAR Response in BC

COWBOY RIDGE, CANADA

An avalanche occurred at 1515 hours PT on Saturday, January 9, 2021, for a size 3 Avalanche response by the RCMP Whistler and Whistler SAR to the Cowboy Ridge, which is just south of Whistler.

RCMP Officials are asking the public to call if you were in the area or are still in the area by calling them at 604-932-3044.

Though Law Enforcement says all parties are accounted for and they have ID’d all those who were in the area earlier, they are working to ensure no other persons are still in the area. Lots of resources have been activated.

It is unknown which SAR units are en route to the area, such as avalanche search dogs and the Ski Patrol unit member like we have here in the United States.

This is a developing story and updates will be posted as information is received.

ABOUT COWRIDGE RIDGE

Cowboy Ridge is said to be a popular area for backcountry skiers which is like the final downhill leg of a marathon skiing tour that has room for lots of twists and turns as you wind down from the Singing Pass Trail into Whistler Village.

It is said to be the playground for the more experienced skiers and advanced alike.

(c) 2021 NW Fire Blog – 1/9/2021 1745 PT