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Mountain snowfall prompts more of North Cascades Highway closure

— Following two feet of new snowfall overnight, the state Department of Transportation has moved the state Highway 20 closure seven miles closer to town.

North Cascades Highway is now closed at the Early Winters area in Okanogan County, officials said.

“This happens most winters when the snow gets to be more than a single snow plow can handle and still be able to turn around at the Silver Star Gate,” Transportation spokesman Jeff Adamson said.

Adamson, whose office in in Wenatchee, said there was more snow higher up.

“It’s not so bad for you snowmobilers - just seven more miles of fun," he said. "But it can work a hardship on skiers and snowshoers.

“If it’s any consolation, this is six weeks later than it happened the last two years.”

Adamson said the highway initially was closed due to avalanches, which remain a danger in light of additional snow in the forecast.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the North Cascades in advance of expected 8-18 inches of new snow by tomorrow.

“For those who have been asking if they can take motorcycles past the closure gates and those who want to know if we’re going to start the spring clearing soon - due to the lesser than normal snow accumulation - no and no,” Adamson said. “Enjoy these six more weeks of winter.”

A Transportation avalanche team will assess the pass in late February or early March to estimate a potential opening date.


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