Weather

Southcentral Alaska snowstorm leads to dozens of crashes in Anchorage, closes schools

City graders remove snow

A storm that dropped up to 9 inches of snow across the Anchorage Bowl, and far more in parts of the Kenai Peninsula, caused dozens of accidents and closed schools in the Anchorage School District on Thursday.

By Thursday afternoon, Anchorage police had responded to 59 vehicle crashes, including 14 with injuries, and 39 vehicles in distress since the snow began falling Wednesday, according to a police spokeswoman.

A collision Wednesday closed a portion of the Seward Highway near Dimond Boulevard for several hours, and police responded to a multivehicle collision on DeBarr Road between Lake Otis Parkway and Airport Heights Drive on Thursday morning.

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The Anchorage School District closed all schools and canceled after-school activities. District officials aim to notify families by 5:30 a.m. if there will be a closure, and a forecast early Thursday had called for additional snow through the day, said Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for the district.

“While roads may be safe for buses, conditions in various parts of the community are not safe for the higher number of walkers and individual vehicles on the road,” she said.

Alaska Pacific University canceled all in-person classes.

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snow, winter, weather

The storm’s track and duration proved difficult to pin down, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kutz.

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Storm totals dropped significantly as the morning progressed.

Forecasters just after 2 a.m. Thursday issued a weather advisory that called for an additional 6 to 9 inches of snow on the Anchorage Hillside and Eagle River and an additional 3 to 5 inches across the Anchorage Bowl.

Just before noon, an updated advisory called for little to no additional accumulation in town.

Kutz said the storm moved differently than meteorologists had anticipated.

Four to 5 inches of fresh snow fell in Skwentna, Wasilla and Palmer on Thursday morning.

The western Kenai Peninsula saw the heaviest snow from this system because a heavy band set up over the area and on Wednesday dropped up to 20 inches of snow in Clam Gulch, with similar totals in Nikiski. By Thursday morning 22 inches of snow was recorded north of Kenai.

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North and northwestern winds were expected to pick up throughout Southcentral Alaska, Kutz said. Gusts up to 55 mph are possible on Friday.

Snow is possible again early next week.

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Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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