Visibility problems and avalanche control work Sunday afternoon temporarily closed Highway 2 near Stevens Pass. An avalanche closed Highway 20 near Newhalem until at least Monday morning.
Heavy snowfall created difficulties for travelers on highways throughout the Cascade mountain range Sunday.
The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) closed Highway 2 at Stevens Pass just after noon due to poor visibility. The pass remained closed for avalanche control at 1:30 p.m., said Jeff Adamson, a department spokesman.
The highway reopened shortly after 5 p.m.
Farther north, Highway 20 was closed in both directions just east of Newhalem after an avalanche blocked the roadway, said Ally Barrera, a spokeswoman for the department.
“We’re keeping the road closed overnight,” Barrera said. “We’re going to send an avalanche crew up there to assess what’s going on (Monday morning).”
Barrera said no cars were struck by falling snow or ice, but it might not be safe for road crews to work on removing debris for some time.
“It looks like the weather could be a little dicey,” she said.
Barrera said more than 55 people were now stuck between the avalanche blockage and the gates that close Highway 20 for the season.
About twenty of them are Seattle City Light workers, who live and work near Diablo Lake, where the utility has facilities. Nearly thirty were affiliated with the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, a field campus in North Cascades National Park. Four snowshoers, a WSDOT employee and a security officer made up the rest of those now stuck because of the blockage.
“Everyone has shelter and food and all that stuff,” Barrera said.
The National Weather Service forecast 10-20 inches of snow through Sunday evening as a winter storm passes through the Cascades.