Friday, February 15, 2008

Paradise Area Projected to Reopen Sunday, February 17

Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga advises that the road to Paradise will remain closed at least until Sunday, February 17. The road has been closed to the public since February 7 when the heavy snowfall in the Cascades increased the avalanche hazard to the point that it was extremely difficult to keep the road safely open. At that time, Paradise had 189 inches of snow on the ground and continued heavy snow, followed by a wet, warming trend further increased the avalanche danger.

Over the weekend more than 10 natural avalanches released depositing heavy, dense snow in several areas between Longmire and Paradise. The park’s Road Crew began the slow task of removing the avalanche debris along with the new snow that had accumulated(up to 10 feet in some locations). Throughout the week they have continued to blow and plow snow to clear the roadways, the parking areas, pullouts and provide access to buildings. Other Maintenance personnel spent the week shoveling the deep snow from buildings, accessways, water and sewer plants, and hydrants and other facilities that have been buried.

Snow removal and cleanup will continue today, as well as getting the snowplay area groomed and ready for use. The last remaining hurdle is a satisfactory water supply test, which has to be confirmed by the State of Washington before reopening to the public can occur. We expect that confirmation on Saturday.

The park will be open to Longmire on Saturday. The National Park Inn is open with lodging, food, a gift shop and ski and snowshoe rentals. Snowshoe walks will be led in Longmire by NPS staff at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sign up at the Longmire Museum.

Businesses in the gateway communities outside the park will be open as well.

With a good weather forecast for this weekend, it should be a beautiful winter weekend at Mount Rainier!


Note: For more details and some great pictures of the heavy snow at Paradise, check out Mike Gauthier's Mount Rainier Climbing Blog.

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