Stevens Pass reopens, “extreme” avalanche danger continues on mountain passes

Stevens Pass 2-23-21

STEVENS PASS, Wash. (AP) — Snow was hammering the central Cascade Mountain passes in Washington state on Tuesday morning, continuing the travel headaches for those trying to get across and keeping avalanche dangers at extremely high levels.

Stevens Pass was shut down for the second time Monday evening after another snow slide covered part of the highway. It had remained closed overnight, but reopened Tuesday morning. Snoqualmie Pass was also open, but very snowy with strong winds, KOMO-TV reported.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Stevens Pass closed overnight again; Snoqualmie, White passes open (for now)

Ernesto Berber was one of the last truck drivers allowed to cross Stevens Pass before the evening closure.

“It’s so hard tonight, take care, be careful, for everybody- you don’t need to come, don’t come,” said Ernesto Berber. His trek from Wenatchee to Stevens Pass usually takes two hours. It was five hours Monday night.

“No— it’s not normal,” Berber said. “In 35 years, it’s the worst time.”

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From Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass, snow slides have been piling up debris on highways and conditions were too unsafe to clear one on U.S. 2 earlier Monday.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pass closures Sunday as snow turns to rain; high avalanche danger

The Northwest Avalanche Center said it’s been years since they forecasted extreme avalanche danger like this. Avalanche experts said conditions are the perfect recipe for destructive avalanches.

“We aren’t getting a big break at least anytime soon,” said Northwest Avalanche Center Deputy Director Dallas Glass. “We’re seeing warming temperatures, strong winds, very heavy precipitation and bringing heavy snow and rain to our mountain areas and that’s naturally tipping the balance for this snow pack driving these very and extremely dangerous avalanche conditions.”