Video shows SR 20 avalanche in motion

NEWHALEM, Wash. – Both directions of State Route 20/North Cascades Highway east of Newhalem in Whatcom County are closed due to an avalanche that blocked the highway.

The snow slide, which fell about 10:30 a.m. Sunday near milepost 122, is estimated to be about 300 feet wide and 25 - 30 feet high.

The closure is approximately 11 miles west of the seasonal closure point for the highway.

There is currently no estimate for when the roadway will reopen to travelers. Washington State Department of Transportation is working with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service as part of a unified command to handle the situation.

There are about 55 to 60 people behind the slide area, all of which have access to food and housing, WSDOT said.

“Our number one priority is to keep both travelers and our employees safe,” said WSDOT Assistant Regional Administrator Dave McCormick. “We need to let the risk of avalanche ease up and wait for daylight tomorrow before we can get back out there and start the process to clear the road and get traffic moving on the highway again.”

Following an assessment of the roadway, WSDOT and the other agencies involved will provide an update on next steps, Monday morning, Feb. 26.