Weather conditions and avalanche danger slow down the cleaning of the pass

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SNOQUALMIE, WA. – The wind, snow and avalanche danger on Friday slowed down road crews working on the reopening of mountain passes which closed on Wednesday evening. All mountain passes above the Cascades remain closed Friday evening with reopening as early as possible not before Sunday.

High winds gusting to 40 mph and periods of heavy snowfall hampered road crews on the Snoqualmie, Stevens and White Passes in Washington as well as Lookout Pass on the Idaho-Montana border. Snoqualmie reported 26 inches of snow since Thursday on the pass and another possible four to eight inches on Friday night for Snoqualmie and Stevens. Strong winds represent a danger for road crews due to the risk of falling trees, poor visibility and increased avalanche danger.

On Stevens Pass, WSDOT says it faces extremely deep snow and may need to do more avalanche control operations on Saturday. So far, the teams on Highway 2 have focused on clearing a single lane in deep snow.

Over White Pass on Highway 12, snow slides also mean snowplows and blowers are working through large snowdrifts that are larger than equipment in some cases. The crews plan another full day of work to clear the snow.

In northern Idaho, the westbound lanes of Lookout Pass are closed after several avalanches on the Montana side of the pass. The eastbound lanes are snowy and slippery. Anyone traveling in Montana will have to divert from St. Regis at Sandpoint along Highway 200 back to the Northwest Interior. The reopening is scheduled for Saturday at the earliest.

I-84 in Oregon and I-5 in Washington are open again after they closed Friday morning due to flooding and landslides. This eight-hour route through the Tri-Cities and Portland is the fastest driving route to Seattle from Spokane for at least the first half of the weekend.

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