Anchorage copes with another big snowfall

88.8 INCHES: City on pace to break all-time mark set 57 years ago; some relief is expected this weekend.

Daily News staff and wire reportsJanuary 12, 2012 

Valdez and Cordova aren't the only ones getting slammed with record-setting snow this winter. Add Alaska's largest city to that list.

A day of heavy snowfall Thursday in Anchorage put the city at a total of 88.8 inches for the winter, as of 3 p.m. That's a record at this point in the winter, the National Weather Service says.

Another 2 to 4 inches was expected Thursday night, followed by clear skies and cold temperatures for several days, forecasters said.

The snow forced the Anchorage School District to cancel participation in all out-of-district sports and activities -- including any in the Mat-Su Borough or on the Kenai Peninsula -- through Saturday due to dangerous driving conditions. Police warned drivers to slow down and use their headlights.

From 12 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, dispatchers received reports of 88 vehicles in distress -- or "ditch divers" -- 51 wrecks and five wrecks with injuries, police said.

The Thursday dump in Anchorage adds to an already immense snowpack for the season.

The weather service counts a snow year from July to June. From July 1 through Tuesday, Anchorage had received an official 81.3 inches of snow at the airport measuring station. Meteorologist Shaun Baines said that makes it the snowiest period for Anchorage since records have been kept.

If the pace keeps up through the last snows in either April or May, Anchorage is on track to have the snowiest winter ever, surpassing the previous record of 132.8 inches in 1954-55, Baines said.

Reported by Daily News reporter Casey Grove and The Associated Press.

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