Winter Storm Closes Washington Passes

December 28, 1998

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Dec. 29 – Heavy snow and avalanche hazards closed two Washington passes Sunday and Monday, leaving thousands of cars and trucks stranded or having to make 100-mile detours.

More than a foot of heavy, wet snow in Washington’s Cascade mountains created such a threat of avalanches that the state closed I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass and U.S. 2 through Stevens Pass. Around 4,000 people reportedly were stuck in the area. The Red Cross set up shelters and local hotels were full. Some people even offered hotels money to sleep in their lobbies.
Those who weren’t stranded had to turn around or take detours of up to 100 miles through other passes or the Columbia River Gorge.
“The heavy snow followed by the heavy rain really weakened the snow, and there was a real risk of natural slides,” DOT spokesman Guy Coss told the Seattle Times. “It was just too much of a risk to be letting people drive through there.”

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