Extreme Avalanche Danger Closes White PassPosted: Updated:
White Pass, WA - Extreme avalanche danger forces the Transportation Department to close White Pass for the first time this season.
DOT Officials hope to have the pass open again by daylight tomorrow, but right now there are no guarantees.
Crews spent the day cleaning the mess left behind by multiple slides, which happened earlier this morning.
People who live and work near the pass tried to stay put, rather than risk driving down the pass to Yakima.
"Nothing but shoveling and plowing this morning," says Rich Siegel, manager of Silver Beach Resort.
He was busy clearing the driveway at the resort for the second time since this morning.
"From what I've heard, we're approaching a state record," says Siegel, "This might have done it."
The DOT says about 18-inches have fallen since last night. That, along with strong wind gusts, prompted at least five big snow slides and a close call early this morning.
Ten semis and five passenger vehicles got caught between multiple snow slides near milepost 156, just a few miles from the summit.
DOT crews used snow blowers and front end loaders to move snow from one side to another along Highway 12.
"We do our best to stay active on this," says Chuck Laidler, DOT Maintenance Supervisor for White Pass, "We're giving it a lot of attention. We feel pressure to get the pass open and we would open it right now if we could."