STEVENS PASS — Snow was hammering the central Cascade Mountain passes in Washington state on Tuesday morning, continuing the travel headaches for those trying to get across and keeping avalanche dangers at extremely high levels.
Stevens Pass was shut down for the second time Monday evening after another snow slide covered part of the highway. Highway 2 reopened at about 8 a.m. Tuesday as WSDOT was able to clear the slide. Chains are currently required on all vehicles except all-wheel drive.
Snoqualmie Pass was open, but very snowy with strong winds. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect through Tuesday night, with up to a foot of snow possible on Snoqualmie.
Ernesto Berber was one of the last truck drivers allowed to cross Stevens Pass before the evening closure.
“It’s so hard tonight, take care, be careful, for everybody- you don’t need to come, don’t come,” said Ernesto Berber. His trek from Wenatchee to Stevens Pass usually takes two hours. It was five hours Monday night.
“No— it’s not normal,” Berber said. “In 35 years, it’s the worst time.”
From Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass, snow slides have been piling up debris on highways and conditions were too unsafe to clear one on U.S. 2 earlier Monday.
The Northwest Avalanche Center said it’s been years since they forecasted extreme avalanche danger like this. Avalanche experts said conditions are the perfect recipe for destructive avalanches.
"Avalanches this big may not have occurred in this zone in many years," Northwest Avalanche Center officials said. "These avalanches are unsurvivable and it's not possible to manage them. The best way to stay safe is to avoid backcountry travel. If you choose to travel in the mountains, you must be able to avoid avalanche paths and terrain that could be over a thousand feet above you. Even where little snow cover exists at low elevation, it's possible that natural avalanches could come from far above."