Snowmachiners rejoice: Gulf of Alaska storm bears gifts

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch News

Alaska's largest city didn't get much in the way of weather out of a big storm that roared ashore from the Gulf of Alaska Tuesday, but the Kenai Peninsula did. The Chugach National Forest says that's good news for owners of snowmachines.

Seward Ranger District motorized trails, except for Lost Lake and Primrose Creek, will open for snowmobile use Thursday, according to trails tech Irene Lindquist. Turnagain Pass in the Glacier Ranger District is already open from Ingram Creek to the Bertha Campground, though there are warnings of avalanche danger there.

Whether that situation stabilizes or gets worse in the next few days is somewhat in limbo. The National Weather Service is forecasting the possibility of up to four more inches of heavy, wet snow for the area, or it could be rain.

The probability of rain at lower elevations will likely keep Johnson Pass, Placer River and Twenty-mile River closed to snowmachines through another weekend. Both areas lack snow cover, according to the Forest Service.

Lost Lake and Primrose near Seward on the Kenai have the same problem. Lindquist said officials are monitoring snow accumulation daily with an eye toward opening both areas as soon as possible. "Lots of interesting weather (is) happening," she noted in a Wednesday morning report. "Across the district, we received 3 to 7 inches of heavy, wet snow through early this morning."

The Kenai is fast moving toward full-on winter, but Lindquist warned of thin ice, and trappers now trapping. Pets should be kept close, she said, and ice should be approached with caution: "Yesterday afternoon we drilled several holes on Grant Lake (near Moose Pass), never venturing further than 20 (feet) from shore because ice thickness was 4 inches and less."

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)