That the mother of all winter snows buried the urban core of Alaska is undeniable. Anchorage set a new record for snowfall at 133.6 inches. That snow fell on the flatlands along the Turnagain Arm coast.
Up on the Anchorage Hillside, where many of the city's moneyed folk reside, there were snows of biblical proportions. Perhaps God was telling people to move to Hawaii or invest in a really big truck with a really big plow. The higher one ascended the Hillside, the National Weather Service reported Thursday, the worse Anchorage's winter became.
Rabbit Creek on the mid-Hillside saw 189 inches of snow, nearly five feet more than the record set in the lowlands. Near the top, Upper DeArmoun saw 210 inches, or about 17.5 feet. By way of comparison, a regulation basketball hoop rises 10 feet above the ground. To get to the level of snow at Upper DeArmoun, picture Shaquille O'Neal standing on the rim. The snow would come up to the top of his head.
But wait, Glen Alps -- at the base of Flattop Mountain above all the other Hillside subdivisions -- got 230 inches. That's 19.7 feet. The average two-story house rises 20 feet above the ground, not counting the roof. Enough snow fell in Glen Alps to bury that house up to the eaves, leaving only the roof showing.
Of course, all the snow that fell in Glen Alps didn't stay on the ground. A lot of it got blown away, because when the area wasn't being buried it was wind-whipped. December brought four Gulf of Alaska storms that came rolling over the front range of the Chugach Mountains packing hurricane-force winds. Glen Alps took the brunt of that, too. The winds peaked at 118 mph there.
But things can always be worse.
Anchorage's record snowfalls look pedestrian compared to the accumulations around Prince William Sound. There are 522 reasons bears are the only big-game animals that can survive around Main Bay on eastern side of the Sound, and every one of them is an inch of snow. Yes, that's right. As unbelievable as this might sound, the weather service measured 522 inches of snow at Main Bay this winter. Well, actually, 522.3 -- but at this point who's bothering with an extra three-tenths of an inch.
Think about it: 522 inches is more than 43 feet. The Alaska Governor's Mansion rises two and a half stories above Calhoun Street in Juneau. If it had been built at Main Bay, it would be invisible, hidden beneath snow. And the snowfall in Main Bay this year, while huge, wasn't unique. More than 36 feet fell on notoriously snowy Valdez. Just a ways farther down the Prince William Sound coast, Cordova saw 27 feet. Cordova, like Valdez, is used to winters with big snow, but this was a lot.
Buildings collapsed under the weight. The city was declared a snow disaster area. The Alaska National Guard eventually was called in to help people dig out. More than a few other Southcentral Alaska residents probably wished they'd been able to call in the National Guard to help with the digging, because there was a lot of snow everywhere.
Here are some totals from the National Weather Service:
• Homer at the end of the Kenai Peninsula: 194.4 inches, or 16.24 feet.
• Amber Lake in the Susitna Valley north and west of former Gov. Sarah Palin's home in Wasilla: 171.2 inches, or more than 14.25 feet.
• Lazy Mountain near Palmer in the Matanuska Valley: 116.4 inches, or close to 10 feet.
Totals for a variety of other Alaska locales can be found here.
Finally, the snow is melting. How long that will take -- and how much flooding will result -- no one knows. Plenty of Alaskans are praying for clear, sunny days and a gentle breakup.
Mother Nature beat up state's most populated region all winter. Might she now relent?
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com