Alaska News

Dozens of crashes tie up Anchorage roads on snowy Saturday

Steady snowfall briefly brought winter back to Southcentral Alaska Saturday, and dozens of crashes, one of which involved 20 vehicles, shut down one of Anchorage's major highways for a few hours in the afternoon.

A winter weather advisory issued in the morning preceded a wide range of snowfall to Southcentral by 6 p.m. Saturday – from 2.8 inches in West Anchorage to more than 8 inches in Palmer. In Valdez, a full 2 feet of snow was recorded by 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

In Anchorage the snowfall created "very difficult" driving conditions, the Alaska Department of Transportation said.

From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., a total of 50 crashes were reported, 9 of which had injuries, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Anita Shell said.

Each report of a crash refers to the collision site, not a single vehicle, Shell said. She did not know the total number of vehicles involved in Saturday's crashes. There were no fatalities in any of the crashes.

Additionally, 18 "vehicles in distress (or in a ditch)" were reported by Anchorage police.

The Seward Highway was shut down for a few hours during the afternoon. More than 30 vehicles were involved in a series of crashes that temporarily shut down the highway from Dowling Road to Dimond Boulevard, Anchorage police said.

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The first was reported just before 2 p.m., when a crash involving at least 10 vehicles shut down the northbound lanes of the highway between Dowling and Tudor roads.

Just before 2:30 p.m., a separate crash involving 20 cars shut down the highway from Dimond Boulevard to Tudor. Then, a third crash shut down the southbound lanes at Dowling Road less than 20 minutes later.

The Seward Highway was closed for about 90 minutes before tow trucks were able to clear the area. Sand was placed on the road for traction, Shell said.

Anchorage saw steady snow accumulation throughout Saturday, with a winter weather advisory in effect until 10 p.m.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, Palmer had measured 8.3 inches of snowfall, the most recorded in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough, said National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Wegman.

Anchorage's Upper Hillside measured 7.5 inches of snow, East Anchorage had 5-7 inches, and at NWS' Sand Lake Road office, only 2.8 inches had been measured as of Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, Valdez got 24 inches of snow Saturday, Wegman said. Paxson had 18 inches and Glennallen had one foot.

"Those were the big three," Wegmen said.

On Sunday, highs in the upper 30s are forecast for Anchorage and the Valley, so "we're going to at least get some start to the melting for sure," Wegmen said.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.

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