The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said Tuesday (Feb. 11) that it has moved the eastern closure point on Highway 20 seven miles farther east, down to the Early Winters information center.

“This happens most winters when the snow gets to be more than a single snow plow can handle and still be able to turn around at the Silver Star Gate,” WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson said. “Two feet of new snow in Mazama and more higher up … provided more than we could handle this morning so the barricades went up at Early Winters.”

Adamson acknowledged that the action “can work a hardship on skiers and snowshoers,” but added that shifting the closure point happened six weeks later this year than in the previous two years.

Adamson noted that winter storm warnings are predicting heavy snow accumulation in the mountains.

Clearing the highway won’t start anytime soon, Adamson said. WSDOT’s avalanche assessment team will check out highway conditions in late February or early March, he said.