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North Cascades Highway is open again, but for how long?

Washington Pass, which separates Western Washington and Eastern Washington, is a welcome sight for motorists driving on the North Cascades Highway.
Washington Pass, which separates Western Washington and Eastern Washington, is a welcome sight for motorists driving on the North Cascades Highway. The Bellingham Herald file

State transportation officials reopened the North Cascades Highway Tuesday morning for one last ride this year, after crews cleared up to eight inches of snow along a 37-mile stretch of road.

The gates swung open at 11 a.m., but be prepared for winter driving conditions – the temperature in Mazama was 20 degrees and there was compact snow and ice on the roadway, the Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted.

The scenic highway, which connects Whatcom and Skagit counties with Okanogan County, has been closed twice in the past three weeks – the last time on Nov. 2 due to a forecast of snow and avalanche danger. It also closed in October after heavy rains and snow caused slides on the highway, which cuts through the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The pending seasonal closure will depend on the weather, WSDOT said, but historically happens around Thanksgiving.

Travelers can get real-time information about the highway by clicking on the “mountain pass” tab in the WSDOT traffic app, following the @WSDOT_East and @WSDOT_North Twitter accounts or by signing up for North Cascades Highway emails.

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