I caught up with Trooper Jeff Merrill, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, and asked him about the WSP’s role in the closure of Snoqualmie Pass. Here’s what he had to say:
"We have close to 10 to 15 troopers intermittently working the pass during the closure, during the evacuation, helping people off the summit and back down the west and east side. We’re trying to keep the disruption to a minimum for those who live and work here, even though it is a huge inconvenience to the public who can’t commute east to west over the summit.
We’re operating road closures, assisting WSDOT in the closure of all the ramps and roads. We’re also ensuring folks can get ferries to the top and back down the pass.
This is one of those things that if you have to travel a mountain pass, it’s expected that you may fall victim to the weather. This is one of those storms we knew was coming and that dumped a record amount of snow. It’s record snowfall in the summit area. As a result, it’s really hampered our ability and WSDOT’s ability to keep the pass open. It’s a continual hour-by-hour evaluation as to whether we can keep it open safely.
At this point, we’re not certain when we’ll be able to reopen the pass. It’s one of those things that when it does open, it might only be open for a short period of time. So folks that are traveling up and over the hill need to be prepared.
If the snow doesn’t slow down, we’ll be behind the eight-ball contunually. The snow is coming down fast and furious now, and the temperature is dropping, and those are recipes for continued avalanche concerns. That’s where we’re at right now.”