Heavy snow has closed the North Cascades Highway for good this year, so drivers headed east for Thanksgiving will have to take another route.
Nineteen fresh inches of snow fell in the hours leading up to the official closure announcement Tuesday morning, Nov. 20, said Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Adamson.
Snow is piled up as high as 14 feet in some spots along the highway. Most of the road in the mountains is buried about 3 feet deep. At least three avalanches rumbled down their usual spots near Liberty Bell Mountain.
"With the amount of snow that slid overnight, it would take a couple of days just to clear it," Adamson said.
Crews closed Highway 20 in the mountains at noon Monday, because of the avalanche risk. They hoped to reopen it, but all the fresh snow dampened that hope.
The highway headed east is closed at the Diablo gate. It closes every winter, often around this time. Adamson said officials didn't want to waver on a closure date. This way, travelers can plan accordingly.
"Part of the reason we put the word out as quickly as we could is so nobody would harbor any expectations," he said.