Weather Service issues heavy snow warning

April 25, 2008 

The spring storm that blanketed Anchorage with heavy snow Friday is creating trouble all around town.

Friday evening, the National Weather Service upgraded the situation from an advisory to a heavy snow warning. People should travel only in an emergency, the weather service said.

The deadline for removing studded tires was April 30 -- Wednesday. But state Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan issued an emergency order Friday extending the deadline two weeks for those affected. The new deadline for those in the storm area is May 15.

Around 10 inches of snow fell during the day and another 8 to 15 inches is expected before the storm ends. Snowfall is predicted to continue all night and into Saturday.

There was one fatal crash, when a pickup truck spun out of control on O'Malley Road and hit another truck head on. The driver of the second truck wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was killed.

As of 4:40 p.m. Friday, some elementary school buses were still on the road delivering children to their stops. Four school buses ran off the road Friday, according to the Anchorage School District.

The district canceled all outdoor activities and an Anchorage Junior Youth Symphony concert scheduled for Friday evening at Dimond High School.

As of 4:20 p.m., there were 16 wrecks reported in Anchorage including the fatality and two others with injuries. Another 30 vehicles ended up in ditches, stuck, or otherwise in distress, according to the Anchorage Police Department.

Organizers postponed Saturday's Heart Run, the biggest footrace of the year and the one that kicks off Anchorage's running season.The Heart Run had been scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. They're trying to reschedule but had nothing firm to announce Friday afternoon.

"Our race course marshals told us the course wasn't safe," said Amanda Price, executive director of the American Heart Association for Alaska. The marshals walked the course Friday morning after the snow started to fall and thought it would be doable, but when they took another look in the afternoon, they didn't think they'd be able to assure runners' safety because of potholes and other hazards hidden under inches of heavy wet snow, she said.

The run, which nearly 7,000 people signed up for this year, requires the closing of roads.

Organizers haven't decided about refunds and hope people will consider their entry fee a donation to the Heart Run.

Crews had planned to close the Glenn Highway at Bragaw Street Friday evening to remove the pedestrian walkway for an overpass project but that work was postponed too. The project team will regroup Saturday morning to decide if the work can take place over the weekend.

The National Weather Service issued a snow advisory Friday around 1:30 p.m. for the Anchorage area that said the snow would continue through the the night but was expected to taper off by Saturday morning.

By 5:30 p.m., the storm had dumped 10 inches of snow in places around Anchorage and the National Weather Service issued its warning, which remains in effect until 8 a.m. Saturday.

"There was a pretty strong cold front that just pushed through this morning and kind of stalled over the Southcentral area," said meteorologist Tom Dang.

Police remind drivers to put their headlights on and give themselves extra space between their vehicle and the one in front. Slow down, they say.

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