A blast of mid-winter moisture blew north from the tropics and put a glaze of ice on Southcentral Alaska Friday, creating difficult conditions for anybody trying to drive or walk on the newly slick surface.
The freezing rain amounted to two-tenths of an inch in Anchorage, according to the National Weather Service's official measurement. The forecasters said at least a quarter-inch fell in areas to the north, including parts of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Ice-related wrecks had emergency responders running from one crash scene to another from early morning through the night. The weather forced closures of bus transit in Anchorage and the Mat-Su, caused the cancellation of after-school activities, and prompted government officials to send employees home or call off work altogether.
Some public safety officials said it was the worst they'd ever seen roads iced over.
A crash involving a semi truck and two cars in Wasilla injured three people and shut down a stretch of Parks Highway at Mile 47, near Museum Drive, authorities said. The male driver of a Dodge Durango that crossed the center line, hitting the semi's cab, suffered "significant injuries," troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said late Friday.
That followed reports of at least three school buses that slid into ditches, including one that rolled and sent the driver and two children to a hospital with minor injuries, Mat-Su Borough officials said.
In Anchorage, police dispatchers took calls on 54 vehicles in distress and 33 wrecks, three of which had minor injuries from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m., police said. There were "no major issues" with city school buses, which were required to have on tire chains, according to Anchorage School District spokeswoman Heidi Embley.
Anchorage resident Heather Swanson was one of many with stories of close calls. Swanson said she was driving south on C Street with a semi truck on one side of her Toyota RAV4 and a guardrail on the other.
"The truck just started sliding and veering all over. He missed me by probably 6 or 8 inches," Swanson said. "I was thinking, 'I want to watch my kid grow up.' That was my first thought. My second thought was, 'I'm going to miss my conference call.'"
"I was so grateful that driver knew what he was doing and was able to get that truck under control."
Snow showers were in the forecast through the weekend in Anchorage and the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, according to the Weather Service.
Daily News reporter Zaz Hollander contributed.