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Avalanches isolate Valdez

The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The volume of water flowing through and old railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon is slowing down as the flow waters covering the Richardson Highway recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
A front end loader is parked on the Richardson Highway near Mile 16 after having cleared some of the flooding debris on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Flooding debris and ice surround a Richardson Highway mile post sign on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Alpine subdivision of Valdez is still on the lookout for possible flooding as a result of the avalanches at Mile 16 of the Richardson Highway on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway, near Mile 16, is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch, right, near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Photo by Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects avalanche debris in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects the Lowe River bridge in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF DOTPF personnel inspect the Lowe River bridges near the Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have also damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A snow slide at Mile 39 is one of three smaller slides that have covered parts of the Richardson Highway in addition to two major avalanches that have buried the road in Keystone Canyon.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
An aerial survey shows how avalanches have damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the avalanche covering the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public FacilitiesAlaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
This photo provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities shows multiple avalanches that crossed the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region of Valdez, Alaska, causing flooding. Alaska highway officials say the only highway into the city of 4,100 people will be closed until further notice, for at least a week, if not much longer.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities via AP
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Skies finally cleared in Valdez, AK on Sunday, January 26, 2014, giving residents a full view of the major avalanches that occurred the previous day on Town Mountain.
Matt Kinney
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo These slides covered the road and dammed the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon at MP 15.5. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides cover a length of the Richardson Highway at MP 45 just south of Stuart Creek. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The volume of water flowing through and old railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon is slowing down as the flow waters covering the Richardson Highway recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
A front end loader is parked on the Richardson Highway near Mile 16 after having cleared some of the flooding debris on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Flooding debris and ice surround a Richardson Highway mile post sign on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Alpine subdivision of Valdez is still on the lookout for possible flooding as a result of the avalanches at Mile 16 of the Richardson Highway on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway near Mile 16 is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The Richardson Highway, near Mile 16, is still buried under debris from a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch, right, near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River as road crews wait for the flooding to recede on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
The 4,000 residents of Valdez are cut off from the road system as a result of a massive avalanche in Snowslide Gulch near Keystone Canyon and the Lowe River. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Bill Roth
Photo by Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects avalanche debris in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Robert Dunning, Valdez District Superintendent of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities inspects the Lowe River bridge in Keystone Canyon Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF Lowe River water rushes out of the tunnel near the Keystone Canyon avalanche January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Jason Sakalaskas / ADOT&PF DOTPF personnel inspect the Lowe River bridges near the Keystone Canyon avalanche, January 28, 2014.
Jason Sakalaskas
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities did an overflight of the avalanches in Keystone Canyon to monitor the situation Monday January 27, 2014.
ADOT&PF
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have also damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A snow slide at Mile 39 is one of three smaller slides that have covered parts of the Richardson Highway in addition to two major avalanches that have buried the road in Keystone Canyon.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
An aerial survey shows how avalanches have damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the lake that has submerged the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the avalanche covering the Richardson Highway Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 outside Valdez. Snow slides covering the highway have damned the Lowe River, complicating efforts to clear the road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public FacilitiesAlaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
A helicopter surveys the scene where a natural avalanche and another avalanche triggered by blasting have covered the Richardson Highway and damned the Lowe River to create a lake on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
This photo provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities shows multiple avalanches that crossed the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region of Valdez, Alaska, causing flooding. Alaska highway officials say the only highway into the city of 4,100 people will be closed until further notice, for at least a week, if not much longer.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities via AP
A helicopter surveys the scene where an avalanche has damned the Lowe River and submerged the Richardson Highway in snow and water Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Keystone Canyon outside Valdez. Some water is escaping through a railroad tunnel.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Skies finally cleared in Valdez, AK on Sunday, January 26, 2014, giving residents a full view of the major avalanches that occurred the previous day on Town Mountain.
Matt Kinney
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides spill off the mountain sides near the Richardson Highway at MP 42. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo These slides covered the road and dammed the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon at MP 15.5. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo Slides cover a length of the Richardson Highway at MP 45 just south of Stuart Creek. DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alyeska Pipeline Company photo DOT has closed the road from Mile 12 (about 12 miles north of Valdez) to Mile 64. Avalanches in Keystone Canyon near Valdez have buried parts of the Richardson Highway several hundred feet long and between 30 and 40 feet deep.
Alyeska Pipeline Company
Alaska Dispatch