PNW Snow – A State of Emergency

As I’m writing this, there is no dependable land route out of the maritime Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Portland). All Interstates are closed. I-90 costs $20M/day in economic costs per day it is shut down. I-5 and I-84 are also closed. These are ALL the interstates highways serving the PNW. We are isolated. The US highways are likewise closed. The only way out is air, and Horizon Air reports all flights are fully booked. (And Vancouver BC is likewise isolated in our greatest trading partner). The Governor of Washington State has declared a State of Emergency. This isn’t a Federal Emergency.

The governor’s announcement, after briefings by municipal and county officials in Spokane Thursday, allows local governments and the state Department of Transportation to bypass normal bidding requirements so they can quickly hire private companies to help with snow removal.
Interstate 90, the state’s main east-west link, was closed at Snoqualmie Pass by deep snow and avalanche danger Wednesday. It remains closed until at least Friday morning.

Even worse, this snow isn’t good for skiing, as the roads are closed

With Interstate 90 closed, the Summit at Snoqualmie was forced to do the same today. The company’s Web site and snow line say to check this morning for Friday’s operating schedule.
Stevens Pass was open this afternoon but canceled night skiing when Highway 2 closed….

Crystal Mountain, which reported getting 41 inches of snow since Sunday, was open today. White Pass was open and the parking lot packed as skiers and boarders flocked to the slopes to float through 14 inches of new powder.

BTW, another storm is about to arrive. I blame Al Gore (LOL).

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Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. JKB says:

    Wait, you’re telling us that it snowed in the mountains in the winter? I find that hard to believe even if it is more than normal. On the upside, maybe they won’t be whining about a water shortage this summer.

    Oh and you forgot that the PNW has a very developed maritime route. Although with gale warnings, you should expect a rolly ride as you approach buoy “J”. But that, like the rain, is part of the great northwest experience.

  2. John425 says:

    My screen name also denotes my area code (Puget Sound) and I am still grateful that the snow around here generally has the decency to stay on the mountains where it belongs.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Whoa there. It’s not that bad. I don’t know who in Washington state is doing the Chicken Little imitation but they need to get a grip.

    Interstate 5 at the Siskiyou summit was closed for a while Thursday but is now open. I-5 is open from Seattle to California according to the state highway departments and my trucks that are moving up and down the coast from Los Angeles to Woodinville.

    Now I-90 and Spokane are different stories but the Pacific Northwest is far from being isolated. The state of emergency is more about bureaucratic hurdles to moving equipment around than anything else.