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'Please don't come:' Relentless snow hammers mountain passes, raises avalanche risks

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 6 days ago Tammy Mutasa, KOMO News Reporter
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STEVENS PASS, Wash. -- Snow continued to hammer the central Cascade Mountain Passes into Tuesday morning, continuing the travel headaches for those trying to get across and keeping avalanche dangers at extremely high levels.

Stevens Pass was shut down for the second time Monday evening after another snow slide covered part of the highway. It reopened just before 8 a.m. Tuesday. Snoqualmie Pass remained open, but very snowy and windy.

Ernesto Berber was one of the last truck drivers allowed to cross Stevens Pass before the evening closure.

“It’s so hard tonight, take care, be careful, for everybody- you don’t need to come, don’t come,” said Ernesto Berber.

a close up of a sign © Provided by KOMO-TV Seattle

Berber’s trek from Wenatchee to Stevens Pass usually takes two hours. It was five hours Monday night.

“No— it’s not normal," Berber said. "In 35 years, it’s the worst time."

From Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass, snow slides have been piling up debris on highways and conditions were too unsafe to clear one on U.S. 2 earlier Monday. 

The Northwest Avalanche Center said it’s been years since they forecasted extreme avalanche danger like this.

Avalanche experts said stacked-up snow, heavy rain, warmer temperatures and strong winds are the perfect recipe for destructive avalanches.

“We aren’t getting a big break at least anytime soon,” said Northwest Avalanche Center Deputy Director Dallas Glass. “We’re seeing warming temperatures, strong winds, very heavy precipitation and bringing heavy snow and rain to our mountain areas and that’s naturally tipping the balance for this snow pack driving these very and extremely dangerous avalanche conditions.”

While the worst part of Berber’s journey is over, first responders warned if you don’t have to be out in the back country during these extreme conditions—don’t.

“It’s so hard, so dangerous for tonight," Berber said. "Please don’t come."

WSDOT said they would re-assess conditions Tuesday morning.

To track the latest conditions on Stevens Pass, click here. To track the latest conditions on Snoqualmie Pass, click here.

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