Avalanches sent cascades of snow and rocks onto two major Cascade mountain highways Monday evening, halting most traffic between Eastern and Western Washington.
One person was rescued from a slide about 45 miles east of here on Interstate 90. Crews spent hours searching for another motorist initially feared missing but by late Monday night officials said they were “99 percent sure” all motorists were safe. Snow from the slides was 10-12 feet deep at some points.
The avalanches closed both I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass and U.S. 2 across Stevens Pass. Both passes run through the Cascade mountains, where heavy snow has been falling, and are the major routes linking the western and eastern portions of the state. The roads run parallel to each other and are about 30 miles apart.
The eastbound lanes of I-90 at Milepost 34 near North Bend and the westbound lanes at Milepost 82 near Cle Elum were closed after slides. An avalanche also closed both directions of U.S 2 - westbound at Milepost 64.5 at the summit and eastbound at Milepost 58.
Authorities said both passes would remain closed at least until this morning.
Four vehicles, including a tractortrailer rig and a state Department of Transportation vehicle, were cut off by one avalanche on I-90, state Transportation Department spokesman Rick Olson said. A second avalanche hit in the same area moments later.
One of the people in the vehicles had to be rescued and the others were able to escape unharmed on their own, Olson said.