UPDATE | December 25, 2015, 7AM
WSDOT crews reopened the eastbound lanes of I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass around 7PM, December 24th. The westbound lanes followed suit and were reopened around 1AM.
WSDOT said 112 inches of snow fell at the pass over the past week – meaning it received 25% of its yearly average snowfall in just seven days – keeping road crews extremely busy trying to keep the heavily traveled pass open for drivers.
Via WSDOT blog: “Drivers are reminded that there are still winter storm conditions in the mountains and they need to be prepared and drive for conditions. Drivers should slow down, give themselves extra time for travel and leave extra space between vehicles. Drivers also should carry chains and other winter weather supplies and be prepared for slow traffic and congestion at times.”
It may be one of the busiest travel times of the year, but apparently Mother Nature didn’t get the message. In the past week she pounded Snoqualmie Pass with 100 inches of snow.
As the snow piles up by the feet, WSDOT crews have done their best to keep the road open for holiday travelers, but drivers hoping to travel over the pass this Christmas Eve are going to have to wait – or find a long way around.
As of 6PM, December 23, 2015, WSDOT closed Snoqualmie Pass in both directions and then kept it closed all night between North Bend and Ellensburg. And according to WSDOT it will remain closed all day, December 24th.
Wednesday night crews were working to clear multiple collisions and snow from the roadway and due to a widespread power outage at Snoqualmie Pass, several WSDOT cameras and variable message signs had been out of service for hours. At midnight it was still unclear when power would be back.
By daylight Thursday morning, with heavy snow continuing (and more predicted) and avalanche danger still high, WSDOT made the decision to close the pass for the day on December 24, 2015.
WSDOT tweeted that they recognize closing the pass presents a hardship to travelers and did not take the decision lightly, but that safety had to come first. They will re-evaluate conditions Thursday evening to help determine when the pass might reopen.
Stevens Pass, which was scheduled to open at 10AM, will also remain closed. Travelers were advised to use US 12, US 14, and 1-84 to get across and around the Cascades. As of 10:45AM, WSDOT said reopening of Stevens Pass was estimated for 1PM- “weather and road conditions permitting, with possible further delays.”
The Washington State Patrol urged travelers to find alternate routes and not block highways and on-ramps/off-ramps.
Alan LaBissoniere, King County SAR Public Information Officer, also encourageed everyone, including experienced outdoor enthusiasts, to stay out of the backcountry due to the current extreme avalanche risk.
According to the Summit at Snoqualmie Facebook page, power was still out Thursday morning and they received 26″ of new snow in the last 24 hours, bringing their seven day total to over 100 inches. Ski slopes were closed.
Mountain pass travel conditions can be monitored at www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/