I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass reopens, North Bend continues state of emergency

Feb 14, 2019, 6:48 AM

Both directions of I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass reopened Thursday morning. But conditions are still risky in the mountains.

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Traction tires are advised for Snoqualmie Pass. Traction tires are also advised for Stevens Pass and oversized vehicles are prohibited.

Nearby, North Bend remains in a state of emergency after the recent snowstorm. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the east Puget Sound lowlands until 4 p.m., which includes gusts through the Cascades.

Officials opened eastbound lanes of I-90 at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Traffic was metered in groups and the speed limit was set at 35 mph. The westbound lanes of the freeway opened at 4 a.m. Thursday morning.

About 53 inches of snow were reported to have fallen on the pass over 48 hours when the westbound lanes were closed Monday night. The harsh conditions led to avalanche dangers. Washington State Troopers reported multiple crashes and spinouts, including a fatal crash in the westbound direction.

Helicopters made the rare move Wednesday of dropping explosives as part of avalanche control to help get the lanes back open.

The City of North Bend is about 20 miles away from the pass. Conditions there were so difficult that it declared a state of emergency Wednesday. That allowed the city to call in help and additional resources, and potentially state and federal funding. The National Guard was sent in to assist Eastside Fire to clear the roads. Plows and other resources from WSDOT were also sent.

“This snowstorm is unprecedented in terms of duration and magnitude, and we just don’t allocate enough resources to contend with a huge snowstorm of this size,” North Bend’s interim City Administrator Mark Rigos told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

But the conditions remained treacherous Thursday morning. Roads were covered in ice, causing problems for trucks and cars.

The North Bend City Council “recognized the hardships” of the winter storm at it’s Wednesday meeting. The city has established an emergency operations center and has scheduled 24/7 snow plows.

“Our council is proud of city staff for their work and commitment and commend them on their relationships with outside organizations that have come to help us out,” Mayor Pro Tem Kostanich said. “The Public Works Department, especially, has been working long shifts that have taken time away from their families and taking care of their own properties for the safety of our residents. There are still significant plowing needs the next few days and roads will remain challenging to drive on. We want to remind community members that your safety is our primary concern and to please use extreme caution if and when you choose to drive.”

KIRO 7 contributed to this report.

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I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass reopens, North Bend continues state of emergency