I-90 West of Missoula Reopens After Flood Mitigated, Hazardous Conditions Persist
UPDATE: 10:30 p.m, February 9 -- I-90 is now open to the public over Lookout Pass, but drivers are warned to lookout for extremely hazardous conditions created by tumultuous rain and melting snow.
Original Story -- A rain storm has combined with melting snow pack to create dangerous conditions and the closure of Montana's most-used roadway.
"We've got I-90 closed from the top of Lookout Pass, basically from mile marker 0 down to the St. Regis area around mile marker 33 due to some flooding, especially around mile marker 5 and around mile marker 22 and 23," said Missoula District Maintenance Chief Steve Felix at around 10:30 a.m. Thursday, February 9. "We've had heavy rain and, and on top of all that snow we've had in the past week, we have water that's three feet high in places running across the road."
Felix said the closure was "indefinite" and that it could be anywhere from hours to days before I-90 is open.
"We're going to get it open as soon as we can," Felix said. "If things go really, really well we'd like to have it open, you know, in the next couple of hours, we just don't know. I just talked to the weather service in Missoula and the meteorologists are expecting heavy rain, at least until 5 o'clock. Then things should cool off and they do expect temperatures to cool off which should help decrease the rapid snow melt. We do advise travelers heading west or coming east from Idaho to plan ahead and use some alternate routes."
Travel from the Idaho panhandle to Montana is extremely difficult as both major routes Highway 12 and I-90 are closed do to extreme weather conditions... Highway 200 seems to be the only major route open at this time. Felix says there are twenty or more crew members on the road with plows and other machinery trying to carve out areas for the water to flow.