HO-HO-NO! Drivers scramble at news I-90 over pass to stay closed today

NORTH BEND, Wash. -- Interstate 90 will remain closed in both directions over Snoqualmie Pass all day on Christmas Eve, the Washington State Department of Transportation reported.

An 80-mile section of I-90 between North Bend and Ellensburg was closed at about 8 p.m. Wednesday for avalanche control work, and crews worked to get stranded drivers off of the mountain. Some holiday travelers near North Bend decided to sleep in their cars Wednesday night in the hope they could dash over the pass on Thursday morning. But that was not to be.

Crews worked all Wednesday night on avalanche control and clearing the roadway, WSDOT tweeted.  But officials came to the conclusion Thursday morning that they needed to keep I-90 closed for safety reasons.  Crews will reevaluate Snoqualmie Pass conditions Thursday evening.

WSDOT said Snoqualmie usually gets 400 inches of snow in an entire season. It got a quarter of that in less than a week, it said.

Stevens Pass was closed for most of the morning for avalanche control work, but reopened shortly after 1 p.m. White Pass on U.S. 12 is open.

Multiple collisions, spinouts and avalanche control work have closed I-90 around the pass numerous times in the past few days as winter storms continue to bring snow to the Cascades.

Before the closure Wednesday night, WSDOT said conditions were such that it could take more than 10 hours to get from Seattle to Spokane.

Also, WSDOT said they would be closing U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday and again between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m for avalanche control work.

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As the blanket of snow got thicker on I-90, drivers got nervous about the treacherous journey  and pulled over to gear up.

“I had a huge truck pull up right in front of me and he wasn`t going to stop,” Craig Swanby said.

Swanby hopes tire chains will get his family to Spokane without any spinouts.

“I am hoping we can do it in 8 but you know what we have all day,” Swanby said.

That kind of patience is needed because it took Q13 News nearly four hours to get to mile marker 47 on I-90 from Seattle on Wednesday. We were stopped for two hours near that area while troopers cleaned up a crash.

In the meantime, hundreds were trapped and going nowhere fast. Eric Lewis decided to get out of his car and walk his dog on the interstate.

“Next time I am going to check the DOT’s website before I even try coming up here,” Lewis said.

Others bored with the wait played in the snow.

WSDOT was advising travelers to delay their trip to over the pass until Thursday.

If you can’t, expert very long delays.

“We are hoping and praying for the best,” Emily Swanby said.

Swanby says she`s grateful her dad picked her up from Everett so she didn`t have to drive to Spokane in the snow.

“Got to have kids home for Christmas, whatever it takes,” Craig Swanby said.