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#955630 - 05/03/10 09:35 AM Re: North Cascades Hwy 20 Closed 05/03 [Re: Dan_Miller]
Dan_Miller Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 01/29/06
Posts: 445
TRs: 0 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle/Heronwood
NORTH CASCADE HWY SR20
Elevation: 5477 ft / 1669 m
Temperature: Not Available
Conditions:
Pass is closed due to a snow storm with blowing snow, compact snow and ice on the roadway.Weather:
Not Available
Restrictions EastBound:
Refer to conditions and weather column for current restriction information
Restrictions WestBound:
Refer to conditions and weather column for current restriction information


Updated: 9:16 AM, May 03, 2010
This is the most current info available
and is promptly updated when conditions change.
_________________________
'What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.'

Rene Daumal

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#955668 - 05/03/10 12:16 PM Re: North Cascades Hwy 20 Closed 05/03 [Re: Dan_Miller]
Dan_Miller Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 01/29/06
Posts: 445
TRs: 0 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle/Heronwood
For once I beat Jeff to the punch (see above and below):

Hi all,

You probably know the North Cascades is closed. It snowed all night and when Liberty Bell #3 filled and dumped across the road, the plow truck driver who had been working all night was told to get out of there, and close the gate on his way. The forecast says we've got another foot or more coming between now and tomorrow, so it's not safe for our crews to be working under unstable avalanche chutes anymore than it's safe for you to be driving under them. I'm rooting around through the record books and haven't yet found an avalanche closure this late - but I'll keep looking. I just got off the phone with Mike Stanford, our Avalanche Control Chief. He will be up there tomorrow doing the assessment of avalanche danger. He's taking the zer along so if some avalanche control blasting can get us open again quickly, he'll be able to do it. It really depends on what happens to the Cutthroat Ridge chutes - if they're full and unstable - we might just have to wait a day or two for the temperature increase that's coming later in the week to cause them to empty. (Due to the topography, you can't shoot Cutthroat starting zones from the highway with the 105mm.)

By the way - depending on how much of the forecast' 6 to 10 inches of snow hits Stevens - he may have to deal with some avalanche issues before he leaves his office at Berne Camp (that's our maintenance facility 8 miles east of Stevens Summit.)

Sorry, no pictures (no one better be up there to take any!) We're manning the gates just in case any back country recreationist we weren't able to contact show up wanting to go home.

Here's what the Highway Alert that went out this morning:

WSDOT Alert

DATE/TIME: May 3, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
DESCRIPTION: SR 20, the North Cascades Pass, is closed from milepost 134 to milepost 170.
LOCATION: SR 20 at milepost 170 North Cascades Pass
START: May 3, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
Est. END: Unknown
OTHER: Due to avalanche danger, high winds, and incoming snow, the North Cascades Pass is closed until further notice.
CONTACT: NCTMC (509) 667-2802

Here's the forecast:

Snow over Washington and Rainy passes will continue through the day today with heavy snow showers and squalls expected during the midday and afternoon hours. There is the potential for significant snow accumulations over both Washington and Rainy passes (upwards of 12"+), with slush potential as low down the hill as Diablo on Mon afternoon and evening. Most of the snow concerns remain over the passes, with little cold-moisture making it much further E than Early Winters. Snow levels may drop as low as 1,500 feet Monday night into Tuesday morning with more snow expected, mainly West of the passes.

Happy May!

Jeff Adamson (509) 667-2815 adamsoj@wsdot.wa.gov
_________________________
'What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.'

Rene Daumal

Top
#955985 - 05/04/10 03:36 PM Re: North Cascades Hwy 20 Closed 05/03 [Re: Dan_Miller]
Dan_Miller Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 01/29/06
Posts: 445
TRs: 0 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle/Heronwood
It's Open Again!

Good news! The North Cascades Highway reopens at 3 p.m. A combination of fortuitous circumstances made it possible. (I could just as easily be writing that it was going to stay closed for a couple more days.) The snow that came in over the past two nights (and days) was heavier on the west side than on the east, and heavier above 6,000 feet. That meant that the Cutthroat Ridge avalanche zone (that can't be controlled with the zer from the highway) only got a couple inches of snow and the chutes remained stable. Liberty Bell got snow at the tops of the chutes. That's what caused the slides Monday morning. Since then, Washington Pass only got about a couple inches, further west, Swamp Creek got 6 inches, further west=more snow. However, the avalanche zones that dump on the highway are the ones to the east (that fortuitous combination...)

The net-net was the crews were able to plow everything off between the two gates by about noon and the avalanche crew started shooting, bringing down snow across both lanes from LB#3, one lane from LB#2 and some slough and broken trees from LB#1. They expect to have that cleared by 3 p.m. so the gates can open.

If you've got to go - expect yucky - uh, less than optimimum- driving conditions. It's been snowing off and on all day. It's overcast and there are big ugly black clouds moving in, which fits with the forecast for some more snow until this evening when it's going to freeze. You might want to reschedule your hike until the weekend...

By the way, the west side crew that was scaling loose rock from the slope between Marblemount and Newhalem was successful in bringing it down - actually more successful than they expected so instead of unrestricted traffic - they got one lane open and are continuing to load and truck away what's still on the other lane and the shoulder - but you can get through with the assistance of the flaggers until they're done.

One of our NCH e-mail recipients, Andy King, was up on SR 20 about an hour before Monday morning's Liberty Bell #3 slide closed the highway, so when he got back to his computer, he sent me some pictures that are now posted on our flickr site: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/4575567519/in/set-72157623371473447/

NEW GATES! - I'll have more details for you, but to put everyone on the same page (We recently talked at a Winthrop Town Council Meeting about it) - WSDOT is going to install a couple more closure gates further up the passes on either side of the area where we've had summer/fall rock/mudslides. That way, when that happens and the road is closed, most of the recreation accesses (trailheads, etc.) will still be open to you. Since there's really no budget for this, (It all came about because Winthrop's Mayor Acheson suggested it to our traffic engineer) our region bridge crew will fabricate the gates as times allows, and it looks like they'll be able to install them around the first of September.

Happy May!

Jeff Adamson (509) 667-2815 adamsoj@wsdot.wa.gov

PS: For those of you who asked - NO Tootsie is not going to be at the gate with more free cinnamon rolls - you'll have to stop at her restaurant and BUY one!
_________________________
'What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.'

Rene Daumal

Top
#956644 - 05/06/10 03:51 PM Re: North Cascades Hwy 20 Closed 05/03 [Re: Dan_Miller]
Dan_Miller Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 01/29/06
Posts: 445
TRs: 0 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle/Heronwood
Hi all,

I know I told you we were probably done with these e mail updates for the season, but what do I know? This weekend is the Winthrop 49er Days and several thousand of you seem to show up for it every spring. In the continuing effort to not see anyone buried under an avalanche, Don Becker (Twisp Maintenance Super) and Mike Stanford (Avalanche Control) decided a little control work is in order. (Liberty Bell #2 and #3 both dumped some snow on the road this afternoon and there's about 6" of new snow in the chutes, right now). Anyway - They are going to shoot zer shells into Liberty Bell starting at noon tomorrow (Friday) and depending on how big a mess that makes, the road should be cleared between 2 and 3 p.m. The official Highway Alert we're sending out says for you to expect the highway to be "closed from noon to 3 for avalanche control blasting".

If you are planning a trip over the passes tomorrow for 49er Days, Oroville's May Day bash, Coulee Dam's Colorama or Manson's Apple Blossom festival (or just a date with some fish in your favorite lake) - include this in your plans and leave earlier or later.

I could have sworn I heard some expert on TV this morning say that "El Nino" had broken and our weather is returning to normal! (I guess he meant "pretty soon"?)

Happy May!

Jeff Adamson (509) 667-2815 adamsoj@wsdot.wa.gov
_________________________
'What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.'

Rene Daumal

Top
#957428 - 05/11/10 02:41 PM Re: North Cascades Hwy 20 Closed 05/03 [Re: Dan_Miller]
Dan_Miller Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 01/29/06
Posts: 445
TRs: 0 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle/Heronwood
Oh no, not more zer action.

Hi all,

On Thursday between noon and 3 p.m. you can expect some 20 minute delays east of Washington Pass under Liberty Bell Mtn. where an avalanche assessment will be underway. Our avalanche chief Mike Stanford and Twisp maintenance supervisor Don Becker are going to be taking some "assessment shots" to determine if they need to do a full control effort with the 70+ degree temps that are forecast through the weekend.

Jeff Adamson 509 - 667 - 2815 adamsoj@wsdot.wa.gov
_________________________
'What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.'

Rene Daumal

Top
#957834 - 05/13/10 04:30 PM Re: North Cascades Hwy 20 Avalanche Stabilization [Re: Dan_Miller]
Dan_Miller Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 01/29/06
Posts: 445
TRs: 0 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle/Heronwood
More zer bombardment!

Hi all,

The avalanche assessment turned into a control effort that successfully brought unstable snow in Liberty Bell #2 and #3 down and confirmed the rest of the chutes they were assessing are clear or stable. Sixteen zer shells booming through the 60 degree sunshiny afternoon - during a few 20 minute highway closures - including a little clean up work, should provide the driving environment you expect (until the next round of snow storms!)

Maybe this will get to be the last e-mail update I'll have to send this spring!

Happy May,

Jeff Adamson (509) 667-2815 adamsoj@wsdot.wa.gov
_________________________
'What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.'

Rene Daumal

Top
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