Pass closures interrupt Christmas travel plans

— Heading to the Puget Sound area for Christmas? Better plan for a long trip.

Snoqualmie Pass is closed today due to heavy snowfall and access through White Pass remains restricted to one lane due to previous damage to U.S. Highway 12.

According to the state Department of Transportation, Interstate 90 from Ellensburg to North Bend will remain closed all day “due to heavy snow fall, trees leaning over the roadway and high avalanche danger.”

Transportation crews closed the pass last night due for avalanche control and clearing the roadway.

“The roadway is expected to remain closed today and conditions will be evaluated this evening to determine when the pass can be reopened,” officials said.

White Pass, from Naches to Packwood, was open at press time, with compact snow and ice on the road. Chains were required, except for all-wheel drive vehicles.

“A traffic light is directing traffic through a single lane near the repaired areas both east and west of the pass,” a statement released by the agency said. “Drivers can expect minor delays.”

In addition to traffic is-sues on those passes, the state has already closed Chinook, Cayuse and North Cascades passes for the winter season.

Stevens Pass, from Leavenworth to Monroe, was also closed at press time, due to “vehicle spinouts and ad-verse weather conditions,” officials said.

Avalanche control was under way this morning and Transportation officials hoped to have the pass reopened by late morning.

But it may not be open long as meteorologists are forecasting another round of heavy snow in the mountains.

A winter weather advisory was in effect this morning for the east slope of the Cascade Mountains from Naches north to the Canadian border as upwards of 3 inches of more snow was expected to fall.

The advisory means motorists should be prepared for snow-covered roads, limited visibility and difficult driving conditions.

Motorists deciding to take the Columbia River Gorge west to the Vancouver area may also experience difficult driving.

A winter weather advisory is also in effect for the area from Hood River, Ore. – about Wishram on the Washington state side of the Columbia River – to Vancouver.

That advisory extends through the evening, as meteorologists are predicting from 1-6 inches of snow to fall at lower elevations and 5-12 inches falling above 2,000 feet.

“Expect some travel difficulties,” the National Weather Service forecast said.


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