Alaska News

Avalanches, storm shut down stretch of Dalton Highway

A stretch of the Dalton Highway in Atigun Pass in northern Alaska remains closed due to extreme avalanche conditions, an official said.

Blizzard conditions persisting in the Brooks Range mountain pass are keeping avalanche gates on the highway closed, said Alaska Department of Transportation northern region spokeswoman Meadow Bailey.

According to a Tuesday morning DOT Facebook post, the closure spans Mile 241 to 248 of the Dalton. The post says crews chose to close the avalanche gates Monday night after witnessing small avalanches.

"This is the first time the gates have been closed since they were installed three years ago," the transportation department said in its post.

At about 7:30 p.m. Monday, an avalanche struck four trucks that were already past the gates, according to the post.

None of the truck drivers were injured by the falling mass of snow. But the avalanche trapped two of the trucks, which Bailey described as tankers. The other two trucks got out of the snow with little assistance, according to DOT.

The two trucks remain stuck on the road, Bailey said. The companies operating the trucks plan to drive equipment to the scene and remove them, she said.

A short video accompanying the DOT post shows one tanker following another, and then snow hit the side of the lead truck and rushed over the hood of the rear truck.

Posted by Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities on Tuesday, February 28, 2017

There is no estimate when the road will be cleared and reopened. The storm is forecast to continue through Wednesday.

"It's still storming up there and we don't have personnel on the road yet," Bailey said. "Once the storm subsides, we'll shoot the avalanche — do mitigation first — and then we'll work on the road."

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