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Early snowstorm in Interior causes power outages

  • Author: Suzanna Caldwell
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published September 29, 2015

An early winter storm blanketed much of Interior Alaska with snow Tuesday, leaving thousands of residents without power and many roads in treacherous condition.

Heavy rain turned to heavy snow Monday night, quickly reaching up to half a foot deep in much of Interior Alaska, according to Fairbanks National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Berg. According to the NWS, the area could see between 4 and 20 inches of snow by Wednesday morning. The Fairbanks School District has canceled school and school activities for Wednesday.

Berg said the weather service had received reports of 5 inches of snow for Fairbanks and surrounding areas accumulating overnight. He said some places saw even more, including Nenana, 45 miles south of Fairbanks, which reported 7 inches of snow overnight.

Winter storm ongoing. Fcst snow amounts raised, total 7-10" today in #Fairbanks area. Keep up:— NWS Fairbanks (@NWSFairbanks) September 29, 2015

The wet, heavy snow caused power outages Tuesday as trees bent toward power lines. Golden Valley Electric Association said in a Facebook post that isolated outages began at 3 a.m. and would continue through Tuesday, mostly in the heavily wooded hills around Fairbanks.

GVEA spokeswoman Corinne Bradish said between 3,000 and 4,000 people were without power Tuesday. She said all eight GVEA crews were working to restore power to downed lines, but as the snow kept falling Tuesday it was difficult to keep pace.

"It just keeps rolling," Bradish said. "We bring a neighborhood up and we could be losing another neighborhood."

Road conditions throughout the area were listed as "difficult" to "very difficult." Travel advisories are in place along the Parks Highway from Mile 163 (near Healy) to Fairbanks.

Fairbanks police sent out an alert Tuesday evening warning that power outages were affecting some traffic lights. The alert asked that people use caution in intersections and treat them like four-way stops.

Berg said snowfall is expected to taper off by 6 to 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The record snowfall for Sept. 29 was 7 inches. Berg said this storm was likely to equal or exceed that.

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