Update, 10 a.m. Saturday: Power had been restored to most customers by Saturday morning though some customers were still without electricity. According to Chugach Electric, fewer 400 customers were without power Saturday.
Earlier story: Snow across the Anchorage area Friday forced school closures, made roads slippery and caused power outages.
The conditions led to dozens of power outages that are not easy to fix, and crews will be working overnight and into the weekend to restore everyone’s power, said Julie Hasquet, a spokeswoman with Chugach Electric Association.
More than 2,600 customers were without power Friday evening, down from closer to 4,000 earlier in the day.
“A lot are small scattered outages,” she said. “Thirty (customers) here, 15 there, 20 there.”
By Friday afternoon, unofficial snow totals included 14.7 inches on the Upper Hillside, up to 5 inches in East Anchorage and close to a foot in Eagle River up Hiland Road, said Alan Shriver a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.
Much of the west side of Anchorage saw next to nothing, he said.
The snow, mixed with rain, should taper off by Friday night or early Saturday morning at the latest, Shriver said.
He said overnight temperatures in Anchorage could dip just below freezing Friday and Saturday, particularly on the city’s eastern edges.
Power outages across the city were caused by the heavy, wet snow falling early in the season while many trees still have leaves. Heavy branches had fallen on lines, Hasquet said.
“Most of the outages are on the Hillside and also in East Anchorage,” she said. “We have 11 crews out and this is a slow, methodical process.”
When trees weighed down by snow touch the power lines, it triggers safety mechanisms that de-energize the lines, she said.
The leafy trees are making it difficult in some cases for crews to quickly identify the source of the problem, she said.
“They’ll continue to work until everything is restored,” Hasquet said. “We just urge people to be patient and prepared for power outages as winter sets in.”
The Anchorage School District closed all schools Friday due to poor road conditions, but high school sports competitions were set to continue Friday evening as scheduled.
“Practices are canceled for high school sports teams not competing this evening and all middle and elementary after-school activities are cancelled for today,” the school district announced around noon. “All activities scheduled for Saturday will continue unless conditions warrant further closure announcements.”
Lumen Christi High School was also closed Friday, and the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University called off in-person classes.
Snow started falling around 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Meteorologist Adam Przepiora said the storm system moved into the Anchorage area from east to west.
Przepiora urged caution on the roadways. “It is early, so a lot of people don’t have snow tires on yet,” he said.
Citing snow in the forecast, the municipality of Anchorage this week announced that residents can drive with studded tires eight days early this year, starting Sept. 23.
The earliest date with at least an inch of snow recorded at the weather service office near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in West Anchorage was Sept. 24, 1981, Przeporia said.
That record will almost certainly stand, Shriver said Friday afternoon.
“The temperature at this point is probably too warm to get the snow to stick on this side of town,” he said.