Washington’s North Cascades Highway, which closes every winter because of heavy snowfall, will likely re-open next week—the earliest-ever re-opening according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The route usually opens in April or May, and once even stayed snowed under until June.
This year’s record-setting opening date deserves an asterisk. The pass did not close at all during the winter of 1976-77, an anemic winter that set the stage for the worst drought Washington has ever recorded. Interestingly, the state Department of Ecology documented numerous comparisons between the drought of ’77 and our most recent nasty dry spell in 2001. And with snowpack in some basins currently below 2001 levels, we could be staring down the barrel of yet another tinder dry summer.