Chinook, Cayuse Passes at Mount Rainier closing unseasonably early due to snowfall

Chinook and Cayuse Passes inside Mount Rainier National Park have closed for the season after a foot of snow fell in a short period of time. 

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the gates to SR 410 and SR 123 typically close for the winter season in mid-November due to avalanche danger, lack of emergency services nearby and limited snow storage.

WSDOT said with the amount of snow and more in the forecast, combined with the lower-than-normal temperatures, they made the decision to close the gates early. Both passes closed on Tuesday after multiple spinouts were reported in the hazardous weather. 

The gates to the passes will reopen in the spring, usually in May.

According to WSDOT, this is the earliest closure of Chinook Pass since the 1930s, aside from 2005 when it closed this time that year. 

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Photo from WSDOT