After a second week of clearing snow from the North Cascades Highway, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews on the Methow Valley side reached milepost 165 on April 16, while the crew working on the west side was at milepost 150, WSDOT reported.
WSDOT said the arrival of a D8 Caterpillar bulldozer to complement the D6 bulldozer “cut down the snow depth to let the blower do its work … and now the crew is fully equipped just in time to tackle the Cutthroat Ridge avalanche pathways.”
“Though it seems close, we are heading into some of the deepest snow and plenty more avalanche pathways,” WSDOT spokesperson Lauren Loebsack said in a press release. “The report from the clearing crew is that those avalanche pathways are still full of snow and we are hoping that the warmer weather this weekend will bring some of that material down naturally without the need for too much avalanche control work.”
While mild spring weather may encourage outdoor recreation in the highway corridor, Loebsack noted that higher temperatures increase the risk of avalanches. “Those of you thinking about heading up past the closure points are strongly advised to consult the Northwest Avalanche Center for current backcountry avalanche conditions,” she said.
The road closure remains at milepost 134 near Newhalem, and milepost 177 at Early Winters.
“We still have several weeks of work to fully clear the roadway, shoulders, and turn around areas, and when the road is cleared, users should keep in mind that many facilities are still closed until later in the season.” Loebsack said.