Amid an early April snow across parts of Southcentra Alaska on Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy postponed until May 11 the deadline to remove studded tires.
Normally, the state requires studded tires to be off vehicles by May 1 for all communities north of Ninilchik as well as on the Sterling Highway; all other communities need to have them off by April 15.
Dunleavy cited the financial burden on Alaskans as well as an effort to avoid spreading COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Auto repair shops are open because they’re considered essential businesses under a state mandate to encourage residents to stay home. They are “permitted to remain open and provide studded tire removal services, if they choose,” state officials said in a release.
But officials encouraged people to stay home and not travel for noncritical reasons to flatten the curve of infections and avoid overwhelming health care facilities.
"Studded snow tires cause additional wear and tear on paved roads, but we know there are significantly fewer Alaskans on the roads right now,” John MacKinnon, commissioner of the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, said in a statement. “Alaskans are observing mandates restricting nonessential travel and they are staying home. We appreciate that the studded tire deadline is pushed back, this is one less thing for people to worry about at this time.”
The suspension did not reflect the snowfall, but it was well-timed.
As of midday Friday, the National Weather Service was reporting 3 inches of snow in Muldoon, nearly 4 1/2 inches at its offices near Lake Hood, and 5 inches in Palmer.
Another weak atmospheric disturbance was moving through early Saturday that could bring a little more snow and maybe rain from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. before temperatures rise into the low 40s for the weekend, weather service meteorologist Patrick Doll said.