Tomorrows noon reopening of the North Cascades Highway marks the second latest since the highway opened 39 years ago. The latest ever was June 14, 1974, and the next latest, surpassed by this year, was in 1976 when it reopened on May 21.
WSDOT maintenance crews will open the east and west winter closure gates on SR 20 to traffic at noon tomorrow.
The clearing effort took more than six weeks, compared to just three-and-a-half weeks last spring. Nine feet of snowfall in March and a record seven-and-a-half feet in April hampered clearing efforts…the highway was buried in snow as deep as 75 feet.
When the gates swing open, drivers should find the road conditions bare and dry or bare and wet across the entire route. The forecasts for the next few days calls for high temperatures in the 60’s with a 30 to 50% chance of rain and a freezing level of 5,000 to 6,000 feet.
The highway closed for the winter Dec. 1. It typically opens between the last week in March and the first week in May. The earliest opening ever was March 10, 2005. One drought year, four years after the highway first opened in 1976, it remained open all winter.