Transport trucks are held up at Rogers Pass

Updated: Mudslide closure in Glacier park likely cleared by noon PDT

Vehicle trapped in mudslide; highway woes likely to continue for days; no re-opening for days possible; 400m wide, 3m deep;

Update, Thursday, June 7, at 11:10 a.m.

DriveBC is saying with high confidence that the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden will re-open at noon Thursday.

In an update posted at 11 a.m., DriveBC stated that the lack of precipitation overnight enabled highway crews to begin clearing debris from the massive mudslide that came down off East Gate Landslide on Heather Mountain near the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park.

Previous updates follow.

Update, Thursday, June 7:

Heavy rains lifted overnight, allowing crews on scene to start clearing the 400-metre stretch of highway that is covered with about three-metres (about 10 feet) of debris at Heather Hill.

DriveBC is now estimating a 12 noon (PDT) opening time, expressing ‘moderate’ confidence. DriveBC ranks their estimates as ‘low,’ ‘moderate’ or  ‘high’ confidence. ‘Low confidence’ estimates, as was seen yesterday, usually indicates the highway crews don’t have a good idea of when the issue will be sorted out. ‘Moderate confidence’ estimates, like the current estimate on this situation, generally indicate the re-opening will happen somewhere around the time they’re predicting. ‘High confidence’ estimates means it will almost always re-open on time and often a half-hour before that.

A local Parks Canada spokesperson told the Times Review she didn’t have further information on progress at the site, other than what is posted on DriveBC. There will be an update on the situation at 11 a.m. this morning.

The rainfall warning for the West Columbia that had been in effect for the past days has been lifted. In Revelstoke, the sun is peeking through the clouds.

A local hotelier told the Times Review the town was almost fully booked with a combination of early summer-season travellers and those stranded by the mudslide. The provincial mine rescue competition in Revelstoke this weekend is also set to strain accommodation capacity if the highway prevents travellers from carrying on.

Check back just after 11 a.m. for another update on the situation.

Wednesday, June 6:

Editor’s note: This story is being updated as new information becomes available. Times and estimated openings are being updated in the body of the story. The latest update was Wednesday at 5:20 p.m.

The ongoing closure of the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden will last until at least noon Thursday and could continue for the “next few days” said a Parks Canada spokesperson. The slide came down in the early morning hours of June 6 as the area experienced heavy rains during spring runoff.

“Heavy rainfall throughout the day that is forecasted to continue this evening is making clean up efforts at the site difficult,” said Parks spokesperson Jacolyn Daniluck in an e-mail update at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. “Traffic cannot be safely moved through the area and therefore we have extended the closure to noon tomorrow with an update at 8:00 a.m.”

The mudslide is at the East Gate Landslide Area, located near the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park.

The mud and debris field that covered the highway is about three-metres deep and covers a 400-metre stretch of the highway. A vehicle was caught in the mudslide when it came down but crews managed to rescue the lone occupant of the vehicle. Parks Canada said that person was not injured in the incident.

This historic East Gate Landslide path is 87 kilometres east of Revelstoke and has been active most years since 1997. Mudslides are frequent at the location during spring and fall runoff periods. A catchment basin was first built in 2001 and another one was added in 2009, but the flow triggered by spring runoff and heavy rains overnight overwhelmed the basins this year, flooding mud and debris onto the highway.

East Gate Landslide

A Google Earth image of the East Gate Landslide. The image was taken in 2004.

Parks Canada crews are currently assessing the area for stability “and then will work to clear the site with all available heavy equipment,” said Daniluck in a statement.

“This situation will likely continue through the next few days,” Parks Canada stated in a media release. “If it becomes possible to open the highway to single-lane, alternating traffic, travellers will be advised to drive cautiously and be prepared for further road closures.”

Parks Canada also won’t rule out the possibility that the highway will not be re-opened for days.

DriveBC announced the closure at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. They say the highway will be closed until about noon Thursday, but are expressing low confidence in that prediction. DriveBC is set to update the situation again tomorrow at 8 a.m.

The closure is also causing delays at the Shelter Bay ferry as many drivers are taking it as a detour, DriveBC is warning. The ferry will remain in service all night to alleviate delays.

The Revelstoke area was buffeted with heavy rains last night. A rainfall warning was in effect for the West Columbia at the time. Environment Canada has updated and continued the warning, forecasting 20 to 50 mm of rain today and tonight.

Daniluck said Parks Canada has photos of the overnight mudslide, but they are not sharing those images with the public.

For updates, check www.drivebc.ca, or call 1-800-550-4997.

With files from Alex Cooper

***

Did you witness the mudslide? Have images of the slide? Call the Revelstoke Times Review at 250-837-4667 or email editor@revelstoketimesreview.com

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