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Weather may stall Sun Road opening

| June 17, 2010 9:00 PM

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - Glacier National Park plow crews are still digging into the Big Drift near Logan Pass, and with poor weather on the horizon it's unlikely that the pass will open to vehicle traffic by Friday.

June 18 is the earliest the park can open upper sections of the road to vehicles because of provisions that allow the closure for construction purposes.

But that would be a long shot given the current status of plowing efforts at the Big Drift, a deep stretch of snow on Going-to-the-Sun Road about a quarter mile east of Logan Pass. It is traditionally the last obstacle in the annual road clearing effort.

"Plows are working on the Big Drift from both the east and the west. They have some initial cuts down to the pavement," said Wade Muehlhof, a park public affairs officer.

The Big Drift is 40 to 50 feet deep, which is considered average.

Muehlhof said the Logan Pass parking lot also is being cleared of snow, and final cleanup work is under way on the section of Sun Road between the West Tunnel and Big Bend.

The big question mark, Muehlhof said, is a forecast that calls for rain at West Glacier starting Tuesday night. Rain is likely today, according to the National Weather Service.

"The upcoming weather pattern makes it impossible to predict what will happen between now and Friday," Muehlhof said. "Who knows what that will do the [plow crews'] ability to get out and work each day."

Plow crews have been at work on the road since early April, and vehicles have been able to travel as far as Avalanche Campground on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side.

Hikers and bikers have been able to travel beyond those points, with some restrictions when road construction is under way.

The park has been posting updated photos of plowing activity on a Flickr account that can be found at:

www.flickr.com/photos/glaciernpsnews

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