PNW passes, other roads shut due to snow, slides, flooding
Jan. 6, 2022 Updated Thu., Jan. 6, 2022 at 9:04 p.m.
SEATTLE – The latest storm to hit the Pacific Northwest brought flood warnings, the shutdown of a major mountain pass, school closures and icy roads Thursday.
Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state’s Cascade mountains was closed Thursday due to high avalanche danger, zero visibility, and blowing, drifting snow. Stevens Pass on U.S. 2, White Pass on U.S. 12 and Blewett Pass on U.S. 97 were also closed Thursday.
Heavy rain and snowmelt brought flooding concerns in western Washington and Oregon as the latest atmospheric river moved into the region. Flood advisories were in place Thursday and a flood watch extended through Friday.
BNSF reported a landslide south of Centralia that prompted a 48-hour stoppage of train service between Portland and Seattle. Buses were being sourced to replace the trains.
Major flooding was expected along sections of the Newaukum and Skookumchuck rivers in Lewis and Thurston counties, the National Weather Service warned. Mason County was urging residents Thursday in the Skokomish Valley area to either evacuate or shelter-in-place for several days as flooding and road closures were expected.
Residents near the Chehalis River were told to prepare to evacuate because of expected major flooding starting Thursday afternoon.
After days of rain and snow in Oregon, a debris slide briefly closed the Historic Columbia River Highway, U.S. 30, in Oregon early Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
A Thursday morning slide in the Columbia River Gorge between mileposts 36 and 37 forced the closure of Interstate 84 in both directions between exit 17 in Troutdale, Oregon, and exit 62 in Hood River, Oregon.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office warned that more debris flows in the gorge were possible and residents in landslide-prone areas should be aware of the potential danger.
“Active land movement is life threatening and may continue throughout this current weather system,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
In Eastern Oregon, OR 334 was closed Thursday by heavily drifting snow.
Snow at higher elevations was expected to turn to rain as the day progressed, adding to flooding concerns.
In Central Washington, the National Weather Service said Yakima could get 6 to 8 inches of snow through 4 p.m. Friday, Ellensburg may see up to a foot.
Steve Bodnar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane, said Wenatchee could receive 20 inches of snow Thursday, with nearby Leavenworth receiving 22.5 inches,
At least 4 inches of snow fell early Thursday in Spokane, and the snow was expected to turn to freezing rain by Thursday afternoon, the Weather Service said.
Numerous school districts in Spokane County and other counties around the state canceled classes Thursday, while others delayed the start of classes.
The heavy snow made it hazardous to drive, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Ryan Senger in Spokane.
“If you don’t have to go to work or you don’t have to be out on the roads, try not to be,” Senger said.
According to Washington Department of Transportation, the passes likely won’t open until Sunday.
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