HATCHER PASS — Hatcher Pass Road remains closed at mile 11 by the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and will likely remain closed through the end of the week. According to DOTPF spokesperson Shannon McCarthy, the series of five avalanches that occurred in Hatcher Pass over the Easter weekend over a week ago still pose a significant threat to DOT heavy equipment operators, preventing road clearing operations from beginning.
“The good news is that we are going to conduct some helicopter mitigation, so we’re going to be taking a helicopter up at the earliest on Thursday and we’re going to be dropping some charges so we can bring down any loose snow in the areas that our operators have to clear,” said McCarthy. “As soon as they redone dropping the charges shaking out anything that’s going to shake out our operators are going to be standing by. They’ve already pre staged the equipment and they’ll be getting to the equipment and starting to clear immediately.”
Hatcher Pass Road has been closed since April 3 after a large avalanche closed the road for the first time this winter on March 26. The road was initially closed at mile 14 and pushed back to mile 10 before being moved back up to mile 11 to allow for Skeetawk to remain open last weekend. Avalanche specialists with DOT have been monitoring the danger in Hatcher Pass since the road closed on April 3.
“our avalanche specialists still believe that the risk is fairly high actually. Particularly when it comes to heavy equipment working in the area because of course it’s big, it’s loud, it’s vibrating the surrounding area so we consider the risk still to be fairly high for the road,” said McCarthy. “It’s possible we could open on Sunday but it’s more likely to be on Monday. Because so much snow fell we probably want to do a little bit of cleanup for people so they can get into parking lots.”
Without access to the many of the upper areas of Hatcher Pass, many of the observations gathered by Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center were from lower elevations. Due to cold temperatures, snowpack stability has increased in Hatcher Pass with a dormant persistent slab problem. Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center provides avalanche forecasts twice weekly throughout the winter as well as road run snow condition updates on their social media accounts. The last HPAC forecast of the year will be on April 17.