GTTS Road “a month behind schedule”

I thought it worth an update on the snow clearance on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park as it is possible to see the rate of progress in a week on the map below. Reported snow depths have also doubled (in that crews are now into the areas with greater accumulation and more slides and avalanches).  [Now Updated with 24th June and 1st July plow locations on map.  18th July – The road finally opened on 13th July (while I was away). This is the latest it has ever opened. Well done to the plough crews and staff.]

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In this video from KPAX in Missoula – Crews struggle with dangerous Going to Sun plowing (16th June) the scale of the challenge is quite plain.

The Missoulian reports Slow going as crews work to clear snow on Sun Road using a mini-cyclone capable of clearing 4,000 tons of snow an hour.

“These levels are just unbelievable for June,” said Thomas, a longtime plow operator. “When we first started up here, you couldn’t even make out an image of the road. So we’re certainly making progress.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were still working after July 11,” Thomas said. “I just don’t know how we can get the job done any faster than that.”

From the NP website: Information Updated at 2:20PM on June 20, 2011

West Side Plowing Activity
Friday, crews cleared 1.25 lanes from the first chute below Triple Arches to just short of Triple Arches. Snow depth was 35-40 feet. Today, crews plan to remove more snow in Triple Arches.

East Side Plowing Activity
Friday, crews worked in the East Tunnel. Snow depth was 30-50 feet. Today, crews will continue that same work.

The USGS avalanche hazard map here shows the features mentioned.

According to Google Maps, the distance between Triple Arches and East Tunnel is 3.2 miles, or about 6 minutes driving time.  At current rate of snow clearance it is probably about 3 weeks, if the weather is kind and the Big Drift doesn’t pose too much of a challenge.

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2 Responses to GTTS Road “a month behind schedule”

  1. John F. Hultquist says:

    An interesting component of this story is that of Triple Divide Peak

    48.572919, -113.517092 (Google Earth)

    When the Park’s snow melts it will head toward three different oceans. The rivers to the west (Columbia basin) and to the east (Missouri & Mississippi) are already overflowing. The resulting floods are slow to develop and even slower to recede. (Once a levee is overtopped and water fills in behind it, there is no place for it to drain away. )

    Look at this area: 40,536411, -95.675489
    . . . just south of Hamburg, Iowa – along the Missouri River. The coordinates are from “McKissick Island” – a part of Nebraska cut of by the river when a meander neck cut through – now contiguous to the State of Missouri to the east.

    In the Pacific Northwest the operation of dams on the rivers (to protect Salmon) need to have water go through the turbines, rather than over the outlets whereby the water incorporates nitrogen. Turbines thus produce electricity and the Bonneville Power Administration (with sufficient power) shut off the receipt of power from area “wind farms.” They cried foul as they don’t get their subsidies if the current doesn’t flow.

    So, two of the three directions from that Triple Divide have related issues.
    Maybe northward, also. I haven’t looked at that region yet.

    Rule No. 1: You can’t do just one thing.

    • Verity Jones says:

      I love that blip on the Missouri/Nebraska border where the river cut through (leaving an oxbow lake for a bit, if i remember my school geography lessons correctly).
      I remember the floods of 1992, I was in St Louis, Missouri at the peak and that was another year with high snowpack. I was looking for old pictures I must have somewhere – haven’t found them yet.

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