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Snoqualmie Pass hits snowfall milestone

The heavy snowfall was the culprit of a lengthy closure Monday.

SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. — Drivers attempting to get over Snoqualmie Pass Monday were stopped by unusually high snowfall.

The pass has the highest snowfall in 20 years as of Jan. 3, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

By Monday afternoon, 236 inches of snowfall was recorded, more than the 229 inches by Jan. 3 that was recorded in 2007 and 212 inches in 2004.

Crews responsible for clearing roads and controlling avalanche danger start falling behind when snowfall rates hit 1 inch an hour. On Sunday night into Monday morning, snow was coming down at 2 inches per hour.

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Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass closed early Monday morning between North Bend and Ellensburg due to heavy snowfall, poor visibility and avalanche danger. It reopened at 8 p.m. on Monday.

Christine Stelly from Baytown, Texas was on her first trip to the Cascades as a driver in training when she was stopped by the closure.

"Right now, I'm in training, having a blast," she said. "Making the best ... of a bad situation."

A truck stop near North Bend was packed, many with drivers that arrived around 2 a.m. on Monday. 

Barry Bryant and his son, who are out of Kingston, were hauling hardware to Billings, Montana when they were stopped. Neither of them are being paid to sit around to wait for the pass to reopen.

"I don't want to think about that kind of stuff," Bryant said. "You just got to deal with it."

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 6,300 trucks were crossing Snoqualmie Pass every day, according to the WSDOT. That adds up to more than $30 billion a year. 

Monday's lengthy pass closure could have equaled millions in lost business.

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