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Stevens Pass closes again after reopening Thursday morning

Stevens Pass closed Thursday evening due to snow slides after reopening just hours before.

SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. — U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass closed again Thursday night following a snow slide.

The pass opened for the first time in several days on Thursday morning. U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass closed last week due to heavy snowfall and the risk of avalanches.  

The pass will be closed "until further notice," according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

U.S. 12 over White Pass reopened Thursday afternoon after crews removed a massive boulder that posed a safety risk.

“It’s critical that all travelers take it slow and be prepared for winter driving conditions,” the department tweeted after the pass reopened. “We don’t want a spin out or crash to cause the pass to close again.”

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Earlier this week, the WSDOT warned drivers about deer on U.S. 2 when Stevens Pass opened.

“The snow is too deep and unstable for [deer] to climb the canyon walls and the only place for them to walk is in the single plowed lane or blower cut, giving yet another obstacle for crews to work around,” the WSDOT posted on Facebook Wednesday morning.

Credit: WSDOT
Deer shelter under a log along the Wenatchee River after days of heavy snowfall in Washington’s Cascade mountains.

The department said crews have used pickup trucks to herd the deer up or down Tumwater Canyon and safely out of the way. The WSDOT warned that “drivers need to be really careful as the deer are going to be tired, hungry and stressed so please stay extra alert as they may not be able to move out of the road as quickly.”

Click here to check the current pass conditions.

White Pass partially reopened Wednesday, with westbound traffic allowed up to the summit, but eastbound traffic was closed overnight.

The reopening of White Pass was short-lived earlier in the week. The roadway reopened Monday afternoon only to be closed again hours later due to a rockslide and unstable slopes.

The WSDOT said the rockslide left a large boulder exposed about 125 feet above the highway near milepost 144. Geotechnical engineers assessed the scene this week and determined the boulder could dislodge with additional snow, rain, and freezing and thawing temperatures, and it was too dangerous to reopen the highway.

The WSDOT said the boulder is “about the size of a three-quarter-ton pickup and likely would take up most of a two-car garage interior.” 

A specialized crew began working to remove the large boulder Wednesday. Workers placed airbags underneath the boulder and inflated them, which caused the rock to fall and break apart.

The risk at Stevens Pass wasn't necessarily at the pass itself. Snow had built up in "rare locations" on the mountain, the WSDOT tweeted. There were more than 200 snow slides in Tumwater Canyon, east of Stevens Pass, since last week - affecting the state's ability to reopen the pass itself.

Ice on the roadway also impacted the reopening of Stevens Pass. The WSDOT tweeted Wednesday afternoon there were "areas with 4-inch-thick ice on the road that need to be removed."

The passes have been closed since last week due to heavy snow and the risk of avalanches.

Snoqualmie Pass and Blewett Pass reopened on Sunday after being closed to traffic since Jan. 6. The WSDOT said crews are continuing to clear snow and ice from “additional traffic lanes, exit ramps, shoulders and rest areas.”

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