Spring is here (kind of): We’re clearing the North Cascades Highway

You know it’s spring when we start clearing State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway. Even though it’s not as warm right now as it usually is in the spring, the pass clearing is at least a telltale sign that spring is making a comeback. Crews started clearing the North Cascades Highway on Monday, March 30.

Snowblower shooting snow - SR 20, North Cascades Highway

It’s not shorts weather just yet, at least not for me, and not for the crews clearing the passes. When I was up there on Wednesday, April 1, it was 25 degrees and snowed all day. Brrrr! I had two coats and my stocking hat on to try and stay warm. Crews working from the west side of the passes had reached the Easy Pass trailhead, near mile marker 151.5. The snow walls left behind from the snowblowers were about 5 feet tall. While we’ve moved quickly from the west closure gate (at mile marker 134) to the Easy Pass trailhead, the snow will get deeper and it will take longer to move through as crews work their way east.

We have quite a few more miles and several more weeks of work left before we finish clearing the passes. It would be nice if the temperatures warmed up and the snow stopped falling. If this current weather pattern keeps up, we might have to wait another week or two before we get help from additional equipment. We usually bring in extra snow equipment from US 2 Stevens Pass, but it’s hard to recruit their help when they’re still busy fighting snow.

The North Cascades Highway is one of the most scenic and loved passes in the state. Many people love to follow our pass-clearing efforts closely. We try to provide as much information as possible as our crews cut through the snow. Here’s a comprehensive list of ways you can follow our progress:
E-mail updates
• Twitter updates: follow @terpening and @wsdot
Flickr pictures and videos
North Cascades Highway Web page
Track our progress on the map

The local wildlife like to follow our progress, too. So far, the most popular picture from the pass-clearing work this year is a snowshoe hare (rabbit) checking out our crews at work.
Rabbit supervises snow clearing along SR 20, North Cascades Highway