Last weekend’s heavy snowfall has prompted the annual closure of State Route 20 over the North Cascades Highway.

The 147-mile stretch that includes two of the state’s highest mountain passes (Washington Pass @ 5,477’ & Rainy Pass @ 4,875’) received roughly 30 inches of snow in a 72-hour period between Saturday and Monday.

Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson, Lauren Loebsack, says the DOT is still primarily focused on trying to clear the roadways in areas outside the closure zone that were also hit hard by the snow.

“Right now we need to focus on the communities on the eastern slopes of the North Cascades that got walloped with about two feet of snow in some places. So we’re working on digging out where there’s a greater need for traffic flow.”

The highway is currently gated on the west side at the Ross Dam Trailhead, while a snow berm has been created by crews to block traffic 44 miles to the east at Early Winters.

However, Loebsack says crews will attempt to clear the road seven miles to the west of the eastside location in the days ahead.

“Time permitting, we will open back up to Silver Star because there is a Sno-Park there that we know people like to access. Typically, that’s where we like to keep it open through the holidays if possible, but that’s not a guarantee at this time.”

The DOT says avalanche dangers on the North Cascades are minimal at this time, but that is likely to change in the days ahead, and no one in any type of vehicle should attempt to travel beyond the established closure points.

The North Cascades Highway usually remains closed through the winter until at least April.

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