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Here’s what you need to know before you drive through Idaho’s mountain passes


LOOKOUT PASS, Idaho — Lookout Pass opens Saturday to skiers and snowboarders.

READ: Lookout Pass will reopen on November 12, Schweitzer on November 19

Although passes are currently open, conditions may change at any minute.

The closures on Nov. 4 left drivers stranded on Lookout Pass for several hours.

Jens Heg waited two and a half hours in traffic before finding a way to get to the nearest exit.

We’ve been kind of looking for information, but we’ve never been able to get anything from any of the highway departments or anything like that,” Hegg said. “We weren’t sure, we just knew something was wrong.”

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) recommends that you download the drivers Idaho 511 appgo to 511 site, or call 511 if they find themselves in traffic. The Idaho Department of Transportation uses the 511 number to report live accidents and closures.

“Certainly there is, shall we say, a lag time between when a failure occurs and you’re not quite sure how bad it’s going to be and how long it will take to clear the system — the thing about 511 is you just want to check it and check ,” said Megan Jahns, ITD Public Information Officer.

On Nov. 4, two accidents that happened at the same time in the afternoon blocked Lookout Pass and caused snowplows to be stuck in traffic. Coupled with the heavy snowfall, Jans says the plows couldn’t get through to clear Lookout Pass.

“There’s not always a good detour option, so you can find an accident, but you can’t go around it and you have to sit and wait,” Jans said. “I think every year we see one or two accidents that really have an unfortunate delay of a few hours.”

RELATED: Preparing for winter travel: What WSDOT wants you to know before you leave for the holidays

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