Crews clear streets after snow piles up as high as 19 inches in some parts of town

Posted: Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Juneau street crews Tuesday continued to take advantage of a break in the weather to clear away remnants of a snowy November.

"If it continues as it has been, I may well have to ask the Assembly to increase our budget," said Street Supervisor Mike Scott.

The consistent snows of November gradually totaled 24.9 inches officially at the airport and 32.5 inches on Back Loop Road in the Mendenhall Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

Alaska Airlines canceled up to 12 flights in the several days after Thanksgiving because of limited visibility from heavy, wet snowfalls, said spokesman Jack Evans.

Brian Tassia, a forecaster at the Juneau office, said snow piled up as much as 19 inches on Back Loop Road. Juneau's normal official November snowfall is 13 inches, he said.

Scott said the overtime required for snow removal piled up in his department as well.

He said the crews can handle an 18-inch snowfall without a problem, but one or two big snowfalls place less of a strain on the budget than persistent snow over a period of time.

The snowy weather, though, didn't tax supplies, such as "road salt," actually a chemical compound including a rust inhibitor, which the city uses during slicker, more icy conditions.

"The more it snows, the less we use," Scott said.

Temperatures that won't get far below freezing should guarantee that conditions for the next few days, at least, will be "sloppy," Tassia said, with some rain, some snow and occasional blue in the sky - "but not as nasty as Monday."

He expected this morning to be breezy, perhaps gusting at 25 to 35 mph. Early Tuesday, wind speeds were measured as high as 150 mph at Sheep Mountain, at 3,500 feet, and around 60 mph around the lower elevations in the city, he said.

He said a woman called the weather service to report that marine equipment had blown onto her roof north of Auke Bay, although she didn't report any damage.

Scott said the strong winds didn't knock down any trees into roadways. The only problem with the weather came from localized flooding, with some ditches full of water and two to three inches of water standing in some places. But that had mostly dissipated by Tuesday.

The snow, Scott said, "has melted away really fast."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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