Day one of the 2012 Spring Reopening of the North Cascades Highway is History!
From the east side, the crew got a single lane cleared about four miles up from Early Winters to Varden Creek before a rear wheel seal on the Kodiak snow blower blew, ending progress for the day.
From the west side, the crew got about three miles above Diablo Gate before they encountered a big slide that pretty much ended the progress for their day, too.
There are some pictures posted on Flickr
Maintenance Supervisor Don Becker said the first day was overcast and the temperature was pretty steady at about 40 degrees all day. The clearing was SLOW. Don said that the snowmobile traffic all winter compacted the snow into “two feet of ice”. The loader was used to get things started, but the Kodiak snow blower did the lion’s share of the work. They got as far as Varden Creek (MP 174) and turned around to clear the eastbound lane back down to Early Winters. Before they got very far that seal blew and day one was done.
This morning, the mechanics worked some magic and while the repair isn’t permanent, the blower is back at work.
Don’s Westside counterpart, Gary Ward tells Dustin they’ll clear as they can with the equipment available between now and Apr. 9 when the Kodiak from Skykomish arrives. Day one produced clear lanes above the Diablo Gate (MP 134) to MP 137 where the encountered a slide blocking all lanes in a location no one could ever recall seeing an avalanche there before.
Today, there’s a winter storm warning in effect for the west slopes of the Cascades – 3 or more inches of snow forecast the higher you go. On the eastside, the forecast for snow is about the same, but there’s no “storm warning” (?). Anyway, trust that it’s wetter (the snow that started falling about 6 a.m. hasn’t stopped) and the camera shows it’s foggier than yesterday and the weather station shows it’s about 6 degrees colder, too.