Chinook closed for season

Faced with the prospect of heavy snowfall, high avalanche risk and the subsequent hazardous driving conditions, authorities decided to close Chinook Pass for the season at noon Nov. 16.

Sitting at 5,430 feet above sea level, Chinook Pass is annually buried by deep snow that obscures state Route 410, the link between Enumclaw on the west and the eastern points of Naches and Yakima.

In the days leading up to the closure, state Department of Transportation representatives noted there already was 5 feet of snow on the pass.

As usual, the pass is closed from Crystal Mountain Boulevard on the west to Morse Creek on the east, a spot five miles from the summit.

Chinook Pass typically closes in November and opens in April. In 2009, the pass closed a bit earlier, on Nov. 8, but in 2008 closure didn’t come until Dec. 15. The earliest closure on record came in 2005, when DOT shut down the highway Oct. 25; the latest was Dec. 18, 1974.

The earliest the pass has opened was April 5, 1973. The latest opening date came just a year later, when the roadway wasn’t cleared for traffic until July 12.

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