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Anchorage wakes up to icy roads Monday, and more may be on the way

  • Author: Ben Anderson
  • Updated: October 31, 2016
  • Published October 31, 2016

Much of Anchorage awoke Monday to find a sheen of ice on local roads, slowing the morning commute for many drivers in what's become a common sight in Southcentral Alaska in recent years.

The Anchorage Police Department announced shortly after 9 a.m. that lanes on both the inbound and outbound Glenn Highway between the North and South Birchwood exits were closed due to separate accidents, which APD spokesperson Anita Shell said involved a total of four vehicles.

The left lanes of both the inbound and outbound Glenn were closed while authorities responded, police said.

As of 10:30 a.m., police had responded to a total of 18 accidents — seven of which involved injuries — and 11 vehicles in distress since midnight.

"It looks like it's mainly affecting the (Glenn) Highway in the Eagle River areas," Shell said, though there were reports of ice in the area of Dowling Road and the intersection of 15th Avenue and Sitka Street in Anchorage.

Occasional rain over the weekend gave way to freezing temperatures early Monday, creating those icy conditions. And the short-term forecast predicted similar conditions for the days ahead, with temperatures "well above freezing" during the day but dipping just below freezing at night, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Christian Cassell.

Temperatures in Southcentral Alaska continue to trend warmer than average, and rain remained a possibility Monday, Cassell said.

"While it's unlikely we'll see any widespread (precipitation), we can't rule out any possibilities of a slight drizzle or isolated rainfall," Cassell said.

The likelihood of rain was expected to decrease as the week went on, but the overnight chill could still create a layer of frost on the roads.

"It's kind of the same pattern we saw last winter," Cassell said.

That's keeping with earlier predictions from climatologists, who said a repeat of last winter — the second-warmest ever recorded in Alaska — was likely this year.

Longer-term, Cassell said, a "more active pattern" may move into Southcentral Alaska next week, bringing snow and possible rain to the Kenai and Chugach mountains, but he warned that forecast could change.

But if it holds, Cassell said, it might deliver some snow to the top of Mount Alyeska. The ski resort there is tentatively planning to open Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day, though the snow report showed no snow accumulation on the mountain as of Monday.

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