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Avalanche risk and snow slides close Chinook and Cayuse passes for the year

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Date:  Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Contact: Summer Derrey, WSDOT communications, 509-577-1943 (Yakima / Chinook)
Kris Olsen, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4475 (Shoreline / Cayuse)
Donna Rahier, Mt. Rainier National Park, 360-569-6501 (Ashford)

CHINOOK PASS – Highway crews closed Chinook (State Route 410) and Cayuse (State Route 123) passes early Monday morning after multiple snow slides. After further inspection, maintenance and avalanche teams decided to close the passes for the rest of the season.

“It’s difficult for crews to maintain those routes and manage avalanche control through wet and unstable conditions like this,” said Les Turnley, maintenance supervisor for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Approximately 20 inches of snow fell on the passes Monday, Nov. 12. After a small break in the weather expected this week, the next major storm is forecast for Friday.

Each year, usually in November, WSDOT closes Chinook and Cayuse passes for the winter due to high avalanche risk and hazardous driving conditions. The combination of avalanche danger, mountainous terrain, lack of cell phone service, inclement weather and relatively few vehicles on the roads make for dangerous winter driving.

Chinook Pass, elevation 5,430 feet, is closed from Morse Creek (five miles east of the summit) to Crystal Mountain Boulevard (11.6 miles northwest of the summit).

Access to the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort on eastbound SR 410 remains open.

Cayuse Pass is closed within Mount Rainier National Park from the 4,675-foot Cayuse Pass summit to Stevens Canyon Road.

WSDOT offers a number of ways to get travel information:
• View the Chinook Pass Web page
• View the Cayuse Pass Web page
• Download WSDOT’s free smartphone app to check statewide pass conditions.
• Tune into the Highway Advisory Radio at 1610 AM and 530 AM
• Call 511 using a hands-free device
• Refresh your memory on winter driving 

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