Travel over the Washington Cascades likely will remain shut down until Sunday because of hazardous weather conditions and the amount of work needed to reopen, the Washington State Department of Transportation said.
The major route across Washington’s Cascades — Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass — was closed Thursday and Friday due to high avalanche danger, heavy snow and low visibility. Stevens Pass on U.S. 2, White Pass on U.S. 12 and Blewett Pass on U.S. 97 also were closed Thursday and Friday.
It was still snowing hard Friday in the Cascades, according to WSDOT reports.
It’s unusual — and maybe unprecedented — to have all four passes close simultaneously for more than a few hours, The Seattle Times reported.
State Route 821 through the Yakima River Canyon reopened Friday morning.
Many Yakima Valley schools were closed or on a two-hour delay on Friday after snow days on Thursday.
While Yakima, Selah and other Upper Valley locations received 8-10 inches of snow, towns directly to the north received record-setting snowfall Wednesday night through Thursday.
Wenatchee received more than 20 inches of snow Wednesday night into Thursday morning, breaking the city’s previous 24-hour snowfall record of 17.7 inches set in 1971. Leavenworth received 31 inches during the same time, while Ellensburg recorded 18.3 inches and has received 23.4 inches during the first six days of January, according to the weather service.
Near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, Easton received a whopping 27 inches between Wednesday evening and Thursday, bringing its snow depth to nearly 70 inches, the weather service reported.
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma said exporters from Eastern Washington and beyond are not able to get their cargo to the docks. Puget Sound Energy said Thursday that crews were responding to power outages in mountain pass regions.
Chris Brown, owner of Wray’s Marketfresh IGA stores in Yakima and Selah, said some of the shelves at the three stores in Yakima and one in Selah are “thin,” but not as bad as when the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“It will take a few days, and all we can ask for is patience,” Brown said Friday. “People are more patient than they were two years ago.”
When the COVID restrictions were put in place, Wray’s supplies of toilet paper, eggs and bottled water were quickly tapped out by people panic buying.
The challenge this time, he said, is getting supplies to his stores. Closures of Snoqualmie, Stevens and White passes have complicated access to suppliers. He was able to get a produce shipment from Portland, but he said that route has also had some closure issues. Both directions of I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge reopened around 7 p.m. Thursday, after a Thursday morning slide.
“It’s really a matter of trucks being able to get to the suppliers and get to us,” Brown said.
He did notice that there weren’t as many customers out Thursday, likely due to the weather.
Interstate 90 is closed between North Bend at milepost 34 and Ellensburg at milepost 106, according to a release from the Washington State Department of Transportation.
U.S. Highway 12 over White Pass remains closed between Packwood at milepost 135 and Oak Creek at milepost 183. Local traffic from the eastside is allowed up to the Lower Tieton Road at milepost 168.
Winds picked up in the region on Friday. The Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency lifted a burn ban on Friday afternoon.
Staff writers Joel Donofrio and Donald W. Meyers contributed to this report.