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Road to Valdez reopened after avalanche

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: December 8, 2017
  • Published December 7, 2017

A DOT snowplow works the Richardson Highway in the Copper River valley Wednesday morning, Dec. 6, 2017. (Photo provided by DOT)

The Richardson Highway reopened Thursday evening after crews cleared an avalanche that had blocked the only road to Valdez earlier this week.

At 5:30 p.m., the road was open from Mile 12 to Mile 55, which had been blocked off after a 200-foot-long avalanche covered a section of the road, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Driving conditions Thursday were "very difficult," DOT said in a written statement. "Heavy snow, mixed with rain, is causing ice to form on the road."

A snowstorm had swept through the area, dumping 45 inches of snow on Thompson Pass overnight Wednesday.

In the previous five days, 76 inches of snow — more than 6 feet — had fallen on Thompson Pass, the National Weather Service Alaska Region said in a Facebook post.

Another 2 feet of snow was forecast to dump on the pass through Friday.