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Storm recap: Freezing rain coats Anchorage again

Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A wrecker starts to pull a car out of the ditch on the outbound lanes of the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon overpass as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Parents are informed of school closures due to icy conditions as they arrive at Turnagain Elementary School on Thursday morning, December 5, 2013, in west Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
An Anchorage Police Department officer checks on a stranded vehicle as freezing rain causes accidents to pile up Thursday, December 5, 2013, on the Glenn Highway.
Erik Hill
A municipal plow truck scrapes the road on the Muldoon overpass of the Glenn Highway as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A van rests alongside the Glenn Highway after sliding off pavement on Thursday, December 5, 2013, near Muldoon Road.
Erik Hill
Mchawi Herrington rides a stand-up fertilizer spreader to throw ice melt onto the sidewalk along East 6th Avenue near H Street on Thursday, December 5, 2013, downtown. Herrington, who works for Doyon Universal under contract to Conoco Phillips, was treating the parking lots and adjacent sidewalks dedicated to Conoco Phillips employees in the blocks surrounding the company's building.
Erik Hill
A UPS cargo jet is de-iced as freezing rain falls on Thursday morning, December 5, 2013, at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Erik Hill
A truck's windshield warms up so the ice can be scraped off during the November 5, 2013 freezing rain event.
Pamela Dunlap-Shohl
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A van rests on it's side and a car is in the ditch on the inbound lanes of the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon overpass as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Municipal road graders traverse East 3rd Avenue as freezing rain continues to fall on Thursday afternoon, December 5, 2013, downtown.
Erik Hill
A van rests alongside the Glenn Highway after sliding off pavement on Thursday, December 5, 2013, near Muldoon Road.
Erik Hill
A SUV spins out into the ditch in the outbound lanes of the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon overpass as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A truck's windshield warms up so the ice can be scraped off during the November 5, 2013 freezing rain event.
Pamela Dunlap-Shohl
Stranded vehicles keep emergency responders busy along the Glenn Highway on Thursday afternoon, December 5, 2013, near the Muldoon Road overpass.
Erik Hill
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A UPS cargo jet is de-iced as freezing rain falls on Thursday morning, December 5, 2013, at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Erik Hill
A van rests on it's side and a car is in the ditch on the inbound lanes of the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon overpass as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Anchorage police officers block the Muldoon exit in the outbound lanes of the Glenn Highway as they help cars get up the ramp and check on a car in the ditch as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Municipal road graders traverse East 3rd Avenue as freezing rain continues to fall on Thursday afternoon, December 5, 2013, downtown.
Erik Hill
A vehicle sits in the median as a sign warns approaching vehicles of freezing rain on Thursday, December 5, 2013, on the Glenn Highway.
Erik Hill
A state sanding truck heads up the Glenn Highway as motorists spin out in freezing rain on Thursday, December 5, 2013, near the Muldoon Road overpass.
Erik Hill
A SUV spins out into the ditch in the outbound lanes of the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon overpass as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A wrecker starts to pull a car out of the ditch on the outbound lanes of the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon overpass as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Parents are informed of school closures due to icy conditions as they arrive at Turnagain Elementary School on Thursday morning, December 5, 2013, in west Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Stranded vehicles keep emergency responders busy along the Glenn Highway on Thursday afternoon, December 5, 2013, near the Muldoon Road overpass.
Erik Hill
An Anchorage Police Department officer checks on a stranded vehicle as freezing rain causes accidents to pile up Thursday, December 5, 2013, on the Glenn Highway.
Erik Hill
A municipal plow truck scrapes the road on the Muldoon overpass of the Glenn Highway as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A UPS cargo jet is de-iced as freezing rain falls on Thursday morning, December 5, 2013, at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Erik Hill
Mchawi Herrington rides a stand-up fertilizer spreader to throw ice melt onto the sidewalk along East 6th Avenue near H Street on Thursday, December 5, 2013, downtown. Herrington, who works for Doyon Universal under contract to Conoco Phillips, was treating the parking lots and adjacent sidewalks dedicated to Conoco Phillips employees in the blocks surrounding the company's building.
Erik Hill
A UPS cargo jet is de-iced as freezing rain falls on Thursday morning, December 5, 2013, at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Erik Hill
Anchorage police officers block the Muldoon exit in the outbound lanes of the Glenn Highway as they help cars get up the ramp and check on a car in the ditch as icy roads caused numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
Freezing rain caused icy roads and numerous cars to hit the ditches in Anchorage on Thursday, December 5, 2013.
Bob Hallinen
A vehicle sits in the median as a sign warns approaching vehicles of freezing rain on Thursday, December 5, 2013, on the Glenn Highway.
Erik Hill
A state sanding truck heads up the Glenn Highway as motorists spin out in freezing rain on Thursday, December 5, 2013, near the Muldoon Road overpass.
Erik Hill

Daily News reporters live blogged the storm that coated Southcentral Alaska roads and vehicles with ice and canceled schools and events Thursday. Let us know your storm stories in the comments, or email newstips@adn.com.

Updated, 5 p.m.:

As of 5 p.m., Anchorage police had responded to 39 accidents, five injury accidents and 80 vehicles in distress since midnight, said Dani Myren, Police spokeswoman.

She said the rates of calls have fluctuated throughout the day and locations of crashes have been varied.

As rush hour approached, Myren said she hadn't received reports of any roads that remain closed in Anchorage due to icy conditions or accidents. But she warned drivers to remain cautious.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 4:55 p.m.:

The People Mover bus route 102 that travels from Anchorage to Eagle River has resumed service, according to Paula Kangis, marketing manager.

A bus left the Alaska Native Medical Center at 4:45 p.m. and another will leave for Eagle River at 5:38 p.m., she said.

"It's moving slow, but at least we're getting people back up there," Kangis said.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 3:55 p.m.:

The freezing rain advisory for much of Southcentral Alaska has been extended to midnight, according to the National Weather Service.

While the main storm system has moved out of the area, scattered rainfall, which may be freezing at times, is still expected through the evening, according to Mark Byrd, meteorological technician with the National Weather Service.

"Any additional rain will be light, but not helpful," said a tweet from the weather service.

Byrd said he expects the rain that's developing over the northern Kenai Peninsula to move north through the Anchorage Bowl and up into the Mat-Su

Updated, 3:50 p.m.:

The Glenn Highway has reopened in both directions, according to Anchorage police.

Traffic was rerouted on outbound lanes near the Hiland Road exit earlier Thursday after a tractor trailer slid going down the Eagle River hill and the Department of Transportation deployed sanding trucks to the area.

While People Mover restarted bus service around 3 p.m., Route 102, the bus route that goes through Eagle River, remains suspended, said Paula Kangis, marketing manager with People Mover.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 3:10 p.m.:

Bus service in Mat-Su is suspended for the rest of the day, officials with MASCOT, also known as Mat-Su Community Transit, said in a statement on the agency's Facebook page.

"MASCOT is suspending ALL BUS SERVICE for the remainder of today due to unsafe weather and road conditions. We expect to resume service tomorrow, Friday Dec 6 - road conditions permitting."

Drivers were having trouble stopping in time, said Lynn Witte, an administrative coordinator with Mat-Su Transit.

"And once they were at a stop, they started sliding because of the inclination of the roads," Witte said.

The borough sanded the roads early in the morning, and all MASCOT runs were in service. But by 1 p.m., the rain had washed the sand away and drivers were beginning to complain, Witte said.

As of 3:15 p.m., the last driver had pulled back into the bus depot. People Mover has also suspended its service to Mat-Su, Witte said.

- Devin Kelly

Updated 3:05 p.m.:

Anchorage People Mover has resumed regular service after being suspended for nearly two hours due to icy road conditions, according to Paula Kengis, marketing manager with People Mover.

Updated, 2:40 p.m.:

Mat-Su Borough offices and facilities, including pools, the ice rink, animal care and regulation, libraries and the landfill will close at 3 p.m. because of weather conditions, said Patty Sullivan, borough spokeswoman.

"We were just getting reports that the roads...were deteriorating very quickly," Sullivan said.

- Devin Kelly

Updated, 2:30 p.m.:

Ice on the Glenn Highway has led to partial road closures, sliding vehicles and sand trucks deployed to the roadway.

Anchorage Police were responding to at least five reports of vehicles in distress around 2:20 p.m. on the highway according to Dani Myren, police spokeswoman.

She said the vehicles are sprinkled along the road, not clustered in a particular area. Not all of the vehicles in distress are obstructing traffic, many have slid off the road, Myren said.

One "big knot" remains northbound on Glenn Highway near the Hiland Road exit, where traffic has been reduced to one lane after a tractor-trailer hit ice, Myren said.

She said vehicles are encouraged to take the Hiland Exit and travel through Eagle River to avoid congestion.

Jill Reese, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, said people should assume all roads will be "pretty slow going."

"Just keep your distance, not only from the driver in front, but from sanders as well," she said.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 1:50 p.m.:

State offices in Anchorage and Mat-Su dismissed employees early Thursday because of weather and road conditions.

Dismissal was staggered at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., according to the Alaska Department of Administration's website.

- Tegan Hanlon

Update, 1:45 p.m.:

Heavy icing is being reported on roads in the Mat-Su Borough. The latest storm hit the area about 12:10 p.m., said Dennis Brodigan, Mat-Su emergency services director.

About 1 p.m., a vehicle rollover was reported on the Parks Highway near Big Lake Road, Brodigan said. He could not immediately say if there were injuries.

Emergency crews driving to the crash site reported heavy icing on roads, Brodigan said. At least two other accidents have been reported in the area, one near the Parks Highway and West Debra Jean Lane, and the other near Trunk Road and East College Drive.

Heavy icing has also been reported on Knik-Goose Bay Road, Brodigan said. The state Department of Transportation is sanding roads in the area.

Borough officials were worried about conditions worsening as the afternoon wears on.

"If it continues the same pattern as the (storm) back a week ago Friday, I would say by 3 or 4 (p.m.), we'll be in trouble," Brodigan said

- Devin Kelly

Updated, 1:30 p.m.:

Valley Mover is operating on a reduced schedule Thursday due to icy road conditions.

Buses will depart from the Downtown Anchorage Transport Center at 2:05 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., according to the Valley Mover website. The three buses will stop at Trunk Road, Fred Meyer and the Bus Barn.

A bus will leave the Bus Barn at 2:30 p.m. for Anchorage and a bus will depart from Fred Meyer at 2:50 p.m. for Anchorage.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 1:10 p.m.:

The bulk of the freezing rain storm system has pushed out of Anchorage and into the Mat-Su area, according to Mark Byrd, meteorological technician with the National Weather Service.

Byrd said ice accumulation varied across the city from just a trace in some areas to a one-tenth of an inch in others.

"It appears the east side of town got it the worst," Byrd said. 

Anchorage may continue to see scattered showers throughout the day. "It could be freezing at times," Byrd said.

Temperatures should climb to 33 or 34 degrees by later this afternoon and dip to about 25 degrees tonight, he said.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 12: 50 p.m.:

The University of Alaska Anchorage has canceled all afternoon and evening classes due to worsening weather conditions, according to the university's website.

All evening classes and activities are canceled. But the UAA Seawolves women's GNAC basketball game will be played as scheduled.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 12:30 p.m.:

Anchorage police have responded to 37 vehicles in distress and 23 accidents so far on Thursday, with numbers of road incidents increasing as the afternoon pushes on, said Dani Myren, police spokeswoman.

“It’s kind of all over the place, but there’s definitely the hot spots, or cold spots if you will,” she said.

Myren singled out the Muldoon Road and Glenn Highway area and the Old Seward Highway and O’Malley Road intersection as icy spots where drivers should use extra caution.

A Ford pickup is blocking part of the lane near the Dimond exit off Seward Highway, she said.

Over the course of a 15-minute phone interview with the Daily News, Myren said, about four new accidents popped up on the police dispatch log. Police were already esponding to seven, she said.

There was an accident at Abbott Road and Sandlewood Place, near East 15th Avenue and Sitka Street, and at East Benson Boulevard and Denali Street, Myren said.

“Just be cautious no matter where you’re going,” she said. “You never know when you might hit a treacherous patch of ice or bad road conditions.”

On Wednesday, police responded to 29 reports of vehicles in distress, 15 of which occurred after 5 p.m., Myren said.

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 12:15 p.m.:

People Mover bus service has been suspended in Anchorage due to icy roads. Road conditions will be monitored hourly to determine when service will resume, according to an email from Paula Kengis, marketing manager with People Mover.

AnchorRIDES has canceled service except for trips returning riders transported this morning back to their home locations and “life sustaining trips.”

- Tegan Hanlon

Updated, 11:35 p.m.:

Roads are reported very slick across Anchorage as freezing rain and sleet continue.

Anchorage police reported two disabled vehicles in the northbound lanes of Minnesota Drive at Westchester Lagoon about 11:30 a.m.

Updated, 10:40 a.m.:

One more dose of icy weather is expected to hit Anchorage this morning before weather improves this afternoon, according to Eddie Zingone, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

After heavier freezing rain Wednesday night cleared up early Thursday, there was one more batch of precipitation between Anchorage and Kenai that was expected to move through the city by the early afternoon, Zingone said at 10:30 a.m.

“By early afternoon it should be mostly over,” he said.

Conditions are expected to remain unsettled through Friday morning, but the weather service is forecasting sunny weather over the weekend.

- Nathaniel Herz

Updated, 9 a.m.:

All after-school activities for the Anchorage School District have been canceled, the district announced.

Updated, 8 a.m. Thursday:

Anchorage public schools and most schools in the Mat-Su Borough will be closed Thursday because of icy roads and the prospect of freezing rain later in the day.

The University of Alaska Anchorage remains open.

Five Mat-Su schools remain open: Glacier View, Talkeetna Elementary, Trapper Creek Elementary, Su Valley Junior/Senior High and Willow Elementary, according to the Mat-Su school district.

Grace Christian School in Anchorage is closed.

People Mover is running buses on a normal schedule but warns passengers to expect delays due to road conditions. People Mover's AnchorRides service is making "essential" runs only this morning but expects to resume normal service, with possible delays, in the afternoon.

A freezing rain advisory remains in effect for the region, including Anchorage, the Mat-Su valleys, and the Kenai Peninsula, with additional ice accumulation of up to two-tenths of an inch in Anchorage.

The National Weather Service, in a post on its Facebook feed this morning, says to expect two rounds of freezing rain, with the second arriving in the Anchorage area between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Freezing rain will continue into the early evening, the weather service said.

The Anchorage School District initially decided conditions were OK to have classes, said spokeswoman Heidi Embley. "However, rain has caused the roads to progressively worsen and Superintendent Ed Graff made the call to close in the interest of safety," she said in an email. The announcement came just before 6 a.m.

- David Hulen and Mark Dent

Original story:

An overnight drizzling of freezing rain could make for a slick commute in Anchorage Thursday morning, forecasters said.

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Precipitation fell onto the Kenai Peninsula early Wednesday afternoon, with freezing rain reported south of the Kenai Airport about 1:30 p.m., said Mike Ottenweller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. That system is expected to make its way to Anchorage by Wednesday night.

While pockets of freezing rain could cause icy conditions, the event will not resemble the ice storm that hit the city about 10 days ago, Ottenweller said.

"It'll be much more isolated and showering in nature," Ottenweller said.

But he cautioned that roads could become slick for drivers Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Later Thursday, the skies will dry up for at least a few days and forecasters say a warming pattern could bring the mercury up above freezing by the weekend.

Elsewhere in the state Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning for the northern and interior Seward Peninsula and the lower Koyukuk and middle Yukon valleys. The warning is in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday until Friday morning.

- Devin Kelly

 

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