Huge slide closes North Cascades Highway; maroons Everett students

A snow slide closed the North Cascades Highway on Friday. (Photo: Washington Department of Transportation)

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. -- A huge snow slide has closed state Route 20 near the Gorge Dam.

The road, also know as the North Cascades Highway, is closed in both directions.

The slide meant a group of about 40 students from Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett are temporarily stuck. The students went on a three-day field trip to the North Cascades Institute and are about eight miles east of the slide.

"The snow pack across the highway is 20-30 feet deep in areas, and the Department of Transportation estimates that the road will not be accessible until Monday afternoon. The institute has plenty of food, electricity and accommodations for the students and staff for the entire weekend. They are also preparing meaningful extended learning activities for the students during the rest of their stay," Principal Dave Peters said in a message to parents.

The students are part of an advanced-placement course in environmental science course. They were in the North Cascades to study the water shed, said Joey Kasanders, one of the students.

"We heard it was going to snow, but we didn't know it was going to snow this bad," he said in an interview with KOMO News Radio.

He said the students were told at breakfast Friday that there had been an avalanche.

"I had a lot of questions. I wanted to know if they are in an area where an avalanche could happen where they are staying," Rita Kasanders, Joey's mother. "If there's medical around there in case something happens to them."

"We were all kind of mad," Kasanders said. "We want to go home. We've been here for a couple of days."

The Washington State Transportation Department said the highway might not reopen until Monday.

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