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Thursday, December 9, 2010

North Cascades Highway avalanche map

Here's a link to a great photo of the perpetual avalanche areas along the North Cascades Highway, that force its closure every year.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/5242152043/in/photostream/#/photos/wsdot/5242152043/in/photostream/lightbox/

This is the same highway, of course, that state legislators vowed they would never fund if it couldn't be kept open all year long, back in the mid-60s! It was possible to keep it open all winter only one year since it was built- just one year! These days, they're singing a different tune:
We cannot physically keep the North Cascades Highway open all winter. The North Cascades Highway has avalanche chutes that are more than 2,000 feet long. Even if a couple inches of snow slides, the chutes can dump a 20-foot deep avalanche on the highway in a matter of minutes. (The avalanche chutes on Stevens and Snoqualmie are all well under 1,000 feet long.) Couple that with the fact that the highway has among the most avalanche chutes of any mountain pass highway in the country and there's no way anyone could provide a safe highway, short of putting the route in a tunnel (which would eliminate all of its appeal, even if someone had that much money).

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