OUTDOOR TRAVEL -- A low snowpack in the Cascades Mountains could mean an early opening for the North Cascades Highway this year.
The Department of Transportation says it will begin clearing snow from State Route 20 this week and hopes to reopen the highway in four weeks or less.
The stretch of highway over the North Cascades is closed during the winter between Diablo and west of Mazama because of snow and avalanche danger.
Crews will start work on the east side on Monday and on the west side on March 23.
The state closed the highway on Nov. 24. It typically reopens between mid-April and early May.
Last year, crews began clearing snow on March 31 and officials re-opened the highway in early May.
In 2013, the highway closed for the season on Dec. 3 and reopened on May 8.
The North Cascades Highway has opened only a few years in March, and once as late as June 14.