UPDATE: Washington Department Of Transportation Press Release:
LEAVENWORTH –Dozens of snow-laden trees slumped over the roadway since Saturday shed the excess snow on their branches, straightened, and are no longer threatening to fall onto US highway 2 east of Stevens Pass.
Warmer than forecast temperatures and a steady breeze overnight caused most of the snow and ice on tree branches to release. By Christmas morning, no more trees had fallen. With continued warmer temperatures, a breeze and much lighter than expected snowfall, by mid-afternoon WSDOT maintenance crews determined the threat of falling trees had diminished to the point that the highway could reopen. The 35 mile closure zone was opened to traffic at 3:15 p.m., 69 hours after the closure began last Saturday. Crews will continue to monitor conditions closely.
"Under normal conditions this snow-sloughing process goes on daily all winter," said WSDOT regional administrator Dan Sarles. "The conditions over the past four days produced a falling tree threat that we've not seen here before." "We're pleased to reopen sooner than we thought we would be able to and have canceled the helicopter back-wash test to clear snow from the branches since it removed itself naturally."
The forecast for 8 to 11" of new snow on Christmas Day failed to materialize. Only 3" had fallen at the summit by 4 p.m., further reducing the potential for making trees unstable. The forecast for the next few days includes little precipitation.
When the pass reopened, a light snow was falling; there was compact snow and ice in places on the highway with traction tires recommended and oversize loads prohibited.
PREVIOUS: Washington Department Of Transportation Press Release:
LEAVENWORTH, Wash. – A major east-west corridor through the Cascades remains closed for a second day due to the potential for snow-laden trees to fall onto the roadway.
US 2-Stevens Pass is closed from milepost 64 at the summit to milepost 99 at the west end of Leavenworth. The closure began at 6:25 p.m. Saturday, due to fallen trees on the roadway and a collision involving a downed tree.
Conditions were evaluated this morning and it was determined that there were too many snow-laden, leaning trees to allow a safe reopening. Work to reduce the potential tree fall and continued monitoring of weather and road conditions are ongoing.
Motorists can access the Stevens Pass Ski Area from the west, but through-traffic is advised to use I-90 Snoqualmie Pass and US 97 Blewett Pass.
At 11 a.m., Snoqualmie was bare and wet with no restrictions, Blewett reported some compact snow and ice with traction tires advised and the west side Stevens was bare and wet with some ice and a traction tire advisory.
Less than 2" of snow fell through the 35 mile closure zone on Saturday. The next front coming through today is forecast to bring as much as 3" to 4" of snow by Sunday evening.
Updates will be provided as details become available.