Winter weather delays Sun Road opening

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Gretchen, left, and Pierce Janssen play in the snow at Logan Pass in this file photo.

Two things seemed clear Friday afternoon about the opening date for the Going-to-the-Sun Road: Glacier National Park isn’t inclined to make predictions and the online tool that updates the road’s status would not be available this weekend.

Today’s date was previously named by Glacier National Park as the earliest possible day for fully opening the Going-to-the-Sun Road for 2019. Visitors will have to check postings on Glacier’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages for updates on park conditions and road status, though, as several important park-related web pages, including “Current Road Status,” will be down through Sunday.

“Visitors should monitor park social media pages for any changes in road status,” said Lauren Alley, spokeswoman for Glacier National Park. “Spring opening conditions always determine exactly when the road will open for the season.”

Visitors can also call (406) 888-7800 for recorded information.

As of Friday evening, the Sun Road remained closed to vehicle traffic between Avalanche Creek and Jackson Glacier Overlook due to weather. In a media release, the park stated that “significant inclement weather is currently preventing the road from opening to vehicle traffic, as conditions are not suitable for motorized travel.

“Park rangers have been monitoring road status throughout the afternoon and evening, and have noted deteriorating conditions,” the release continued. “Temperatures are currently below freezing, with freezing rain and snow in some high elevation areas coating the roadway. More rain is expected, raising the possibility of rock or mudslides.”

While vehicle access could be limited, the hiker and biker shuttle will be available Saturday, and hiker and biker access up the Going-to-the-Sun Road is possible.

The park said rain and thunderstorms are predicted to extend into the weekend and that visitors should wear warm layers and a waterproof shell.

Last year, the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened June 22. In 2017, it opened June 28.

The 51-mile road was completed in July 1933 after more than two decades of planning and construction.

Annual snow plowing officially ended June 5 this year, when plow crews from the west side of the park met plow crews from the east at the “Big Drift” just east of Logan Pass.

But the road remained closed afterward to facilitate ongoing pavement preservation work.

Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at dadams@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4407.

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