SEATTLE — Editor's note: The above video is from Jan. 2022.
Before you head over the mountains, make sure to check pass conditions as closures are possible and chains may be required at times.
The Washington State Department of Transportation may close one direction or both directions of a pass if severe weather or collisions warrant a closure.
Here's how to check if the passes are open or closed in each direction before you hit the road:
Check mountain passes
A major reason the passes are closed is to allow specialized crews to remove the avalanche hazard by bringing down accumulated snow in a controlled fashion.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said they have about half a dozen chutes they monitor at Snoqualmie Pass for potential avalanches.
Chutes are natural areas of steep terrain, usually free of trees where snow accumulates. Under certain circumstances, that snow can suddenly release and come crashing down.
Both Stevens and Snoqualmie have howitzers available for avalanche control. In clear weather, they can drop explosives from helicopters.
For the most part at Snoqualmie, bags of explosives are moved along wires called trams to the top of chutes, sometimes bags are dropped from ridges above.
Yet, it’s not just about where the snow ends up or how much. What keeps avalanche control teams busy is how fast the snow comes down.