State Route 20 North Cascades Highway is open after a lengthy closure over the weekend at Rainy Pass.

The Department of Transportation reports a tanker truck carrying propane broke through a guardrail and went down an embankment at about 10am Friday.

WSDOT spokesperson Lauren Loebsack says the propane created a problem in getting the truck back to the roadway.

"The propane made it heavy enough that the tow couldn't get the truck back onto the road," said Loebsack.

The road was shut down as snow came into the area Friday night and crews performed an ice control.

Another tanker truck was brought in Saturday to pump the fluid out of the truck down the embankment so it could be hoisted back up to the roadway.

The whole project took most of the day and WSDOT reported SR 20 to be back open at about 6:45pm Saturday.

The stretch of SR 20 closed down reached from Ross Dam trailhead to Silver Star gate.

Loebsack says their crews are now beginning to form a schedule for the winter time annual closure of SR 20.

"The earliest closure that we have on our books is 2003 and that was October 17th," said Loebsack. "So, I kind of always think that you're on borrowed time after that."

According to a blog posted by Loebsack, the stretch of SR 20 that crosses Rainy and Washington passes also crosses dozens of avalanche paths between Whistler Mountain and Delany Ridge.

She said that unlike Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass where avalanche control teams can clear the avalanche chutes in the winter, the same treatment is not feasible on SR20 because of staffing, funding and proximity to the North Cascades National Park.

"Once the snow gets to certain conditions when we're looking at avalanche concerns, then we need to close it," Loebsack said.

Image of annual road closure of SR 20 - from Washington Department of Transportation
Image of annual road closure of SR 20 - from Washington Department of Transportation

State Route 20 is initially closed between mileposts 134 and 171 every winter. When snowfall reaches lower elevations, the closure is extended from Newhalem gate (milepost 121) on the west side to Early Winters gate (milepost 178) on the east side.

The latest date SR 20 closed for the winter was January 10, 1990. It reopened on April 21 of that year.

The latest date the roadway reopened was June 14 in 1974.

9 Photos of SR 20 North Cascades Highway in Washington State Clearing

When will SR 20 North Cascades State Highway in Washington open in 2023?

Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals

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