Snoqualmie pass is critical to travelers across Washington and beyond. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) works to notify and prep drivers for the winter conditions. Additionally, state troopers continue to enforce speed laws and recommend safety measures for public welfare in this season.
Meagan Lott, a Communications Manager for WSDOT, is responsible for informing the public about weather impacts, delays and responses to natural disasters. One night last week there was a total of three feet of added snow, which led to recent closures.
“What’s been different with this snow is the fact that it’s increased the avalanche danger,” Lott said.
According to Lott, they continue to conduct avalanche control missions which involve detonating explosives to bring down the snow as opposed to the potential dangers of natural snowfall.
Lott said this season isn’t out of the ordinary for volumes and average. However, the snow has been arriving later in this season.
“We average about 370 inches in winter and right now we are at 340,” Lott said.
Lott’s advice for drivers is to check the WSDOT website or social media, then measure your own comfort and preparedness for travels.
Harry Nelson, the Maintenance and Traffic Manager for WSDOT, coordinates with five separate regions to ensure they equip various crews with the correct materials for their jobs. Previous work as a plow driver shapes his current approach in his position.
“It’s been very helpful to have the full background from the ground up. Boots on the ground to the office,” Nelson said.
Nelson said working like a big wheel and in conjunction with every other department is what has led to success this season. He said the neatest part of the job is how everyone bands together.
“If people come prepared that’s the best we can ask and we will do our best to help them out,” Nelson said.
Darren Wright is a Sergeant with Washington State Patrol. Wright said Snoqualmie is always a challenge for the job due to its rapidly changing conditions.
“Our goal is to make sure everyone gets home safe,” Wright said.
He said that the State Patrol is always working to prevent dangerous driving behaviors. Wright said that even if someone is driving safely, there is the possibility they could face an accident such as running into a drunk driver, and a seatbelt could save their life. He said the objective is to place people in the best position possible for protection.
According to Wright, essentials are chains and a warm set of clothes in case of emergencies. The State Patrol wants people to be ready for any situation going over Snoqualmie.