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Hundreds without power after snowstorm

Wind damage is visible along Shebanof Avenue Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Residents dig and plow their way out from an overnight snowfall Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Snow is cleared from Toilsome Hill Drive Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
The clouds lift for a view of snowbound Anchorage Monday December 12, 2011 from the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Trees are clad in wind-sculpted snow following an overnight storm Monday December 12, 2011 at Glen Alps.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Traffic signs are rendered unreadable following an overnight storm Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Some inboxes are full along Ginami Street following an overnight storm Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Motorists wait for the road to be cleared to emerge from the Huffman Road neighborhood downhill from Hillside Drive Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
A skier tows kids across the meadow below Service High School as weather forces the cancellation of school Monday December 12, 2011 in Anchorage.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Youngsters take to the slopes with school cancelled Monday December 12, 2011 on the hill adjacent to Service High School.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Tim Newton clears heavy, wet overnight snowfall from the driveway of his Toilsome Hill Drive home Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Although the Anchorage School District cancelled classes for the day, Derek Strong begins clearing sidewalks and paths following an overnight snowfall Monday morning December 12, 2011 at Turnagain Elementary School.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Frozen ruts and bumps on Dimond Blvd. near C Street shake up cars and make driving hazardous on Tuesday, December 13, 2011.
Road graders clear access to Alaska Pacific University Monday December 12, 2011 in east Anchorage.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Russell Parker clears heavy, wet snow following an overnight storm Monday December 12, 2011 in his driveway along Elmore Road.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Dave Geest clears snow along the edge of the roadway and away from mailboxes Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside. "I'm just out helping the neighbors out," he said.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
A mailbox bears a heavy snow load on Schuss Drive Monday December 12, 2011 on the Anchorage Hillside.
ERiK HILL / Anchorage Daily News

Update, 6:30 p.m.: How much snow fell on Anchorage during the Sunday-Monday snowstorm? A lot - especially on the Hillside.

This from the National Weather Service:

...SNOW TOTALS FOR SOUTHCENTRAL ALASKA...

A STRONG LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM MOVING NORTH OVER THE KENAI PENINSULA BROUGHT SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF SNOW TO THE AREA FROM EARLY SUNDAYTHROUGH THIS MORNING.

ANCHORAGE:

UPPER DEARMOUN......................24.0 INCHES

MID HILLSIDE........................16.0 INCHES

PARADISE VALLEY.....................14.0 INCHES

NWS FORECAST OFFICE.................10.9 INCHES

HUFFMAN AND LAKE OTIS................9.0 INCHES

MULDOON AND 20TH.....................8.0 INCHES

KTVA STUDIO SPENARD..................7.0 INCHES

EAGLE RIVER:

END OF HILAND RD....................18.6 INCHES

KANTISHNA AND EAGLE RIVER LP RD......8.0 INCHES

PETERS CREEK AREA....................5.2 INCHES

MATSU VALLEY:

PALMER/WASILLA HIGHWAY AND TRUNK RD..3.6 INCHES

SUSITNA VALLEY AREA:

BENTALIT LODGE.....................19.0 INCHES

EAGLE SONG LODGE...................16.0 INCHES

GATE CREEK CABINS..................10.0 INCHES

AMBER LAKE.........................10.0 INCHES

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Update, 4 p.m.: Between 500 and 750 dwellings in the Anchorage Bowl were without electricity as of 3 p.m., according to Chugach Electric Association.

Power to Girdwood, Whittier and Portage was restored about 1:20 p.m., said Chugach spokesman Phil Steyer. Power was still out in Indian, Moose Pass, Hope and Cooper Landing. Crews are working, he said.

Anchorage continued to dig out from the snowstorm, which dumped more than a foot of heavy, wet snow on the Hillside this morning. Driving conditions varied around the city. Some highways are relatively clear, while others are icy and rutted. Many sidestreets have not been plowed.

In the Mat-Su, "conditions are difficult with heavy snow pack on most of the Parks and Glenn highways," according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.On the Kenai Peninsula, driving conditions range from "difficult to fair" on the Seward and Sterling highways, the department said.

Avalanche-control work is being down along the Seward Highway from the Bird Flats to the Sterling Highway "Y," the department said.

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Update, 11:10 a.m. Monday: The Seward Highway south of Anchorage and highways on the Kenai Peninsula were much improved this morning over Sunday, when numerous vehicles spun off the roads and white-out conditions were reported in some areas, say Alaska State Troopers.

There were no vehicles in distress this morning on the Seward Highway, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen. At Turnagain Pass, the highway was covered by four to five inches of snow, she said.

Motorists on the Glenn and Parks Highways and in the Fairbanks area face difficult, slick driving conditions, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation. Go to 511.alaska.gov for a statewide DOT report.

In Anchorage, People Mover bus routes are running seven to 10 minutes behind schedule, and AnchorRIDES, a door-to-door service for senior citizens and people with disabilities, is limiting trips to essential trips only, for dialysis treatment, chemotherapy and certain work trips.

A People Mover bus on Route 60 got stuck early today on Oceanview Drive, and a vehicle bumped into the rear of a bus on Route 102 in Eagle River about 8 a.m. Otherwise, there were no incidents, said People Mover director Lance Wilber.

The Anchorage School District, which put out notice a little after 6 a.m. that schools would be closed today, later in the morning explained why the decision was made so late. Usually closure decisions are made before 5:30 a.m. This time, road conditions seemed acceptable when ASD staff began driving roads to check them at 3 a.m., but worsened by 6, said a statement issued by the district.

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Update, 9:10 a.m. Monday: The snow advisory for Anchorage has been canceled.

Roads are snow-covered and icy. Crews are working on main roads, while many side streets are unplowed.

According to Chugach Electric, about 1,000 customers in the Anchorage Bowl were without power at 9 a.m.

Moose Pass, Hope and Indian areas are still without power, according to Chugach. An outage also has been reported in Cooper Landing, but not the whole community. Crews are are out working, said Chugach spokesman Phil Steyer.

"Lots of wire down from this storm," he said.

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Update, 6:20 a.m. Monday: Anchorage schools are closed today, the district announced this morning.

"The decision was made earlier this morning to hold school as scheduled however due to numerous reports of deteriorating road conditions, the superintendent decided shortly after 6 a.m. to cancel school," the district said in an e-mail sent at 6:13 a.m.

The University of Alaska Anchorage was planning to be open, as of about 6:15 a.m. "We will continue to monitor the situation as the day progresses," said an announcement posted to UAA's Facebook page.

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Update, 5:30 a.m. Monday: Wet, heavy snow fell across much of Anchorage overnight, and the National Weather Service has issued a snow advisory for the city through 9 a.m. Heaviest accumulation is expected toward the mountains.

Scattered power outages are still being reported, mostly on the Hillside. As of 5 a.m., Chugach Electric Association reported about 300 customers without electricity.

According to a summary from the weather service, 9 inches of snow fell in the Upper DeArmoun Road area. The peak gust at Glen Alps Sunday night was 97 mph.

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Original story, posted Sunday evening

By LISA DEMER / ldemer@adn.com

Big winds and heavy, blowing snow pummeled Anchorage and beyond Sunday, leading forecasters to issue warnings of a blizzard and high winds.

Thousands of people in Southcentral Alaska from the Mat-Su down to Moose Pass lost power, including many on the Anchorage Hillside, utility companies said.

The National Weather Service warned of white-out conditions at higher elevations.

Alaska State Troopers said numerous vehicles skidded off the Seward Highway south of Anchorage. Troopers and the Department of Transportation advised people to stay off the Seward Highway because of "white-out conditions on the passes and very slick roads in between," trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

Troopers also received reports of vehicles going off the roads around the Kenai Peninsula.

Motorists were stranded in Turnagain Pass, Cooper Landing and Moose Pass, and spots between, she said. Troopers were working with state road crews to clear paths for stranded drivers.

Anchorage police were busy responding to crashes and vehicles in distress. Between midnight and 6:20 p.m., dispatchers had tallied 29 crashes and 40 reports of vehicles in distress.

Alaska Airlines diverted four flights that had been headed into Anchorage on Sunday, but by late evening operations were back to normal, said spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.

The blizzard warning for higher elevations and a high wind warning for lower elevations was in effect until 10 p.m. Sunday. The high wind warning stretched from Eklutna through Eagle River and Anchorage down to Indian.

Three to 6 inches of snowfall was predicted along with wind gusts from 85 to 100 mph, the Weather Service said.

Customers in Hope, Moose Pass, Whittier and Indian all lost power, as did thousands on the Hillside and in South Anchorage, said Phil Steyer, Chugach Electric Association spokesman. The power started going out at mid-afternoon due to winds and falling limbs, and nine crews including Chugach employees and contractors were working to restore it, he said.

In all, some 8,000 Chugach customers -- as measured by meters -- lost power, Steyer said. About half had power restored by 9 p.m. Sunday. Of those who lost service, about 4,400 were connected to three neighborhood substations, near Rabbit Creek Road and Goldenview Drive, O'Malley and Birch roads, and Lake Otis Parkway and Dowling Road. Chugach didn't expect to get to Moose Pass or Hope on Sunday night.

Farther north, thousands of Matanuska Electric Association customers in Eagle River, Chugiak and Birchwood lost power, said Cheryll Heinze, spokeswoman for the association. So did Meadow Lakes, the association said on Facebook.

Substations were down "probably from the lines slapping together," she said.

Heavy snow caused outages on the Kenai Peninsula too, according to the Homer Electric Association. The biggest occurred Sunday at 4 p.m. when the substation that serves the City of Kenai went off line, leaving about 2,500 homes and businesses without power. A tree probably fell on the line, the Homer Electric Association said. The utility reconfigured its system and restored power to the city within an hour, but scattered outages continued.

As of 7:15 p.m., Municipal Light & Power reported none of its customers had lost power but the high winds were keeping crews on alert.

Sunday afternoon, areas from Peters Creek to Airport Heights were reporting rain or a rain and snow mix, said Dave Stricklan of the National Weather Service.



Anchorage Daily News / adn.com