Forecast of snow followed by warm, wet weather increases avalanche risk

information released by WSDOT, file photo

With a forecast of snow followed later this week by warmer, wet weather, the SR 20 North Cascades Highway will close on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. for the season. The closure points will be milepost 134/Ross Dam Trailhead on the west side and milepost 171/Silver Star Gate on the east.

Up to ten more inches of snow is forecasted for today, followed by a warm, wet Thursday and Friday, increasing the risk of avalanches across Rainy and Washington passes. Unlike US 2 Stevens Pass and I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, the North Cascades does not have facilities to perform avalanche control work to alleviate the condition. For the safety of the traveling public and winter maintenance crews, the pass must be closed.

The road will remain open and maintained until 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Travelers should still prepare for winter driving conditions as there will be active winter weather throughout the state this week.

Why we close the highway in winter

We close the North Cascades Highway when weather, snow conditions and avalanche danger threaten the safety of drivers and our maintenance crews. Avalanches typically close the highway between late November and mid-December. Reopening in the spring is usually accomplished by early May.

Winter recreation on SR 20

Hikers, skiers, snowmobilers and other recreationists can access the closed portion of the highway during the winter season. Users should park in designated parking areas to allow plow drivers the space they need to clear snow around the closed stretch’s access gates.

Since WSDOT closes this stretch of the highway due to avalanche risk, anyone using this area should check forecasts and be aware of quickly changing conditions in the mountains. Travelers can also check conditions with North Cascades National Park before traveling to this area.

Updates will be shared on Twitter @WSDOT_East.