SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. — The Washington Department of Transportation estimates mountain passes could be closed until Sunday, shutting down major supply and travel routes. Pass closures are expected to impact shipping, groceries and other services.
The closures include Snoqualmie, Stevens, White and Blewett passes.
WSDOT said conditions were too dangerous for crews Thursday night to be in the pass areas. Workers have reported snow, trees and other debris sliding onto highways.
Come Friday, WSDOT said crews plan to spend the entire day addressing avalanche issues to create work zones if conditions are safe enough.
Once that avalanche work is complete, crews will spend Saturday clearing the passes by plowing and treating roads, removing trees and wiping ice from road signs.
In a statement on twitter, WSDOT said "We recognize the importance of these corridors but nothing is more important than the safety of our crews and the public. We are prepared to move in once it is safe, and we appreciate your patience during this challenging situation."
WSDOT has a lot of work ahead and not as many employees. 5.9 percent of WSDOT’s workforce left their jobs in October after the vaccine mandate for state and health care workers took effect.
WSDOT was down almost 300 of its typical 1,500 winter staffing positions as of this October.