After assessing snow levels in dozens of avalanche chutes, some stretching more than 2,000 feet above the highway, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews will start clearing the North Cascades Highway on Monday, March 23, WSDOT announced on March 11.
On March 10, WSDOT’s avalanche control team analyzed the snowpack and studied the extended forecast to determine a safe time to begin clearing the snow-covered highway, according to a WSDOT press release. The avalanche team will monitor conditions during the clearing process, WSDOT said.
WSDOT crews will start snow clearing near Early Winters on the east side on March 23, and near Diablo on the west side on Monday, March 30. The east and west teams will clear the highway Mondays through Thursdays until they meet. Clearing usually takes about six weeks. Check progress on the WSDOT website, wsdot.wa.gov.
After snow clearing is completed, WSDOT crews will clear ditches of winter debris and replace and repair guardrails before reopening the highway. People who want to use the closed section of the road for recreation can do so Friday through Sunday, when WSDOT crews are not working.
If clearing work is completed in six weeks, the pass would likely be open in time for Winthrop ’49er Days, May 8-10.
The highway opened on April 18 in 2019, and closed on Dec. 11.