16 inches of snow fall in parts of Anchorage

Five to 10 inches expected for Juneau

Posted: Friday, January 05, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Snow has piled up in Anchorage and other Southcentral Alaska communities, disrupting traffic and closing public buildings.

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Meteorologist Tom Dang at the National Weather Service in Anchorage said 16 inches of snow had fallen in parts of the city.

Juneau forecasters issued a heavy local snow warning from 3 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. today. Five to 10 inches were expected here.

A low pressure system moving from the Gulf of Alaska into Prince William Sound brought snow over a 200-mile swath, stretching from Homer to Talkeetna. The snow storm followed 36.9 inches of snow that fell in Anchorage last month, the fourth snowiest December on record.

Anchorage was "bearing the brunt of things" in the storm, Dang said.

Anchorage Police Department Lt. Paul Honeman said police took reports of 53 collisions between midnight Tuesday and 5 p.m. Wednesday. More than 100 vehicles were in distress or in ditches. The department was averaging a disabled call every six minutes and a collision every 10 minutes, Honeman said.

Julie Hasquet, spokeswoman for the municipality of Anchorage, said libraries and recreation facilities would close early because of the heavy snowfall. Schools already were closed for the holidays. The University of Alaska Anchorage closed early, though a women's basketball game was not postponed.

Rick Feller, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation Central Region, said the snowfall meant plenty of work for snow removal crews.

"We're keeping up," he said. "We're certainly having to maximize our available work force."

Plowing crews have shifted to working six 12-hour days.

"That way we can provide 24-hour coverage," Feller said. "With this much snowfall, it just takes awhile to clean up between snowfalls."

Alaska State Trooper spokesman Tim DeSpain reported no unusual traffic problems earlier in the day.

"Considering the amount of snow and that it continues to fall, things are going pretty well," DeSpain said. "It seems that people have decided to slow down."

Driving too fast in snowy conditions is the main reason people leave the roadway or cause accidents, DeSpain said. Troopers driving from Anchorage to Girdwood reported low visibility and slowed traffic but no major disruptions.

Troopers reported no significant morning crashes within trooper jurisdiction on the Glenn Highway connecting Anchorage and Palmer, DeSpain said.

The lack of vehicles in ditches aided Department of Transportation crews using high-speed plow trucks keeping highways open, Feller said.

Crews got a head start on highway problems by performing pre-emptive avalanche control last week along the Seward Highway, Feller said.

"We expect to do more this week," he said.

Like DeSpain, he said people should slow down in the deep snow - or consider not making a trip.

"We urge everyone to stay home if they don't need to get out," Feller said.



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