Local Information

SR 20/North Cascades Highway closed east of Newhalem due to avalanche

Sunday, February 25, 2018 - 16:54

Tom Pearce, WSDOT communications, 206-437-6314
Denise Shultz, NPS communications, 360-391-7269

FINAL UPDATE 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27: Both lanes have reopened to all traffic on SR 20 at milepost 122.5.

UPDATE 2:46 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26: WSDOT crews made great progress today by clearing one lane of SR 20 east of Newhalem. The clearing work allowed those caught behind the slide to leave the area. One lane of the highway will remain open overnight for local traffic only. Crews plan to return to the area on Tuesday morning, Feb. 27, to continue their clearing efforts.

UPDATE 9:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 26: WSDOT crews have started work to clear the slide on SR 20 east of Newhalem. Maintenance staff will work as quickly as they safely can, but believe it will take until at least Wednesday, Feb. 28, to reopen all lanes of the highway. Crews will first work to reopen a single lane, to allow those stuck between the slide and the season closure gate to leave the area. We will provide updates on the clearing progress and timeline as we get them.

Highway to remain closed at milepost 122.5 until at least Monday, Feb. 26

NEWHALEM – Both directions of State Route 20/North Cascades Highway east of Newhalem in Whatcom County are closed due to an avalanche that blocked the highway near milepost 122.5 at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 25. The snow slide is estimated to be about 300 feet wide and 25 - 30 feet high.  The closure is approximately 11 miles west of the seasonal closure point for the highway.

Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews will reassess the slide area on Monday morning, Feb. 26. There is currently no estimate for when the roadway will reopen to travelers.

WSDOT is working with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service as part of a unified command to handle the situation. There are approximately 55 to 60 people behind the slide area, all of which have access to food and housing.

“Our number one priority is to keep both travelers and our employees safe,” said WSDOT Assistant Regional Administrator Dave McCormick. “We need to let the risk of avalanche ease up and wait for daylight tomorrow before we can get back out there and start the process to clear the road and get traffic moving on the highway again.”

Following an assessment of the roadway, WSDOT and the other agencies involved will provide an update on next steps, Monday morning, Feb. 26.

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