ITD plans to close 'Avalanche Alley' Wednesday over slide concerns

GRANDJEAN, Idaho (KBOI) - It's avalanche season on Highway 21.

And that means closures.

On Tuesday, the Idaho Transportation Department announced that crews will close the 12-mile stretch of Highway 21 between the Grandjean Junction and Banner Summit at noon Wednesday as an avalanche safety precaution.

Officials say no slides have occurred, but the avalanche risk is increasing. There are 54 inches of snow at Banner and 47 at Galena. Temperatures have ranged from a high of 8 degrees to a low of -21 degrees in the last 24 hours.

"We are going to close the road at noon tomorrow due to rapid warming from the very cold temps," said ITD Avalanche Forecaster Brian Gorsage. "We will reevaluate the road at 5 p.m. tomorrow after the high temps have peaked."

This will be the second closure of this section of road this winter. The first lasted just four hours on the morning of Dec. 17.
During avalanche season last year, there were eight closures between Nov. 1 and March 31, totaling 21.5 days. A total of 50 slides tumbled down on the highway during that time.