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White Pass Closed, Cutting Off Residents, Ski Resort

Washington state transportation officials have crews out assessing the damage to White Pass on U.S. Highway 12 near Mt. Rainier Thursday. There’s no estimate yet of when the high pass will reopen after heavy rains tore the roadway out in several places and caused rockslides.

The closures to Highway 12 both east and west have stranded the White Pass ski resort and many mountain residents.

Ski resort managers said they have just a skeleton crew still on the hill. The resort’s power is also off. During a typical December weekend, with good snow, the resort might see as many as 4,000 people over two days.

A gas station owner in Packwood, Washington, said the pass closure is throwing a wrench in her Christmas-time business. She usually sees more than a 20 percent increase this time of year. Many mountain residents travel the winding highway to Puyallup, Tacoma or Yakima to do their big shopping. But with those Santa-paths cut off by mud and water, the town has been quiet.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.