Alaska News

Anchorage braces for more snow after a day of crashes

Snowfall across Anchorage and parts of the Mat-Su early Monday created a messy start to the work and school week. By evening, though, weather in Southcentral Alaska had calmed.

But the National Weather Service issued a special weather statement late Monday warning drivers of the possibility of similar commute conditions on Tuesday.

"Wet roads and surfaces from melted precipitation on Monday will re-freeze with temperatures remaining near freezing or below. This combined with additional snow accumulations will cause roads and other surfaces to be slick Tuesday morning," the NWS said.

The National Weather Service's Tuesday morning forecast calls for "snow accumulation up to 2 inches, with greatest amounts in South Anchorage." The afternoon will see a chance for additional snow and rain with temperatures in the mid-30s, giving way to nighttime lows in the mid-20s and chances of patchy fog into Wednesday.

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, Anchorage police spokeswoman Anita Shell reported five vehicles in distress, two non-injury accidents and no injury accidents since midnight. She called that count a major improvement from Monday, which saw distressed-vehicle and non-injury accident counts near 100 each by evening.

The Anchorage School District, which issued an apology for delayed information on school buses slowed by Monday's icy roads, reported that it was open as usual Tuesday.

In a seven-day forecast issued shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, the NWS said Anchorage, Eagle River and the Mat-Su could expect more snow daily for the upcoming week. Many of those days are also expected to get rain. With temperatures expected to stay in the 20s and 30s, road conditions on Tuesday could be similar to the Monday commute.

Department of Transportation spokesperson Shannon McCarthy said crews worked all day Monday to keep things under control, with every available operator working on sanding the roads. She's expecting Tuesday won't be much different.

"It looks like we will get more snow tonight, and temperatures around freezing, so we're asking people to be cautious and drive for conditions in the morning," McCarthy said.

The city had seen scores of non-injury accidents since midnight, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Anita Shell said Monday morning. In a release issued by police shortly before 2 p.m., police said they had responded to 87 vehicle collisions, 10 minor-injury collisions and 92 vehicles in distress, most of which were vehicles that slid into ditches, police said.

As of 2 p.m., all Anchorage roads had reopened after a series of weather-caused closures -- including one on Rabbit Creek Road from Goldenview Drive to the Seward Highway, due to vehicles sliding downhill.

"This serves as a reminder for motorists to slow down and increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you," police said. "Prepare your vehicle for the winter by using appropriate tires and carry warm clothing in the event of a breakdown or collision."

Shell, who lives in Palmer, said she began her drive on the Glenn Highway shortly before 5 a.m., but didn't reach Anchorage until about an hour later. Although the Glenn was never closed, it was plagued by slowdowns due to crashes and ditched vehicles between Anchorage and the Mat-Su.

In the Mat-Su, Alaska State Troopers had responded to 37 car wrecks and vehicles in distress between midnight and 3:30 p.m., agency spokesperson Megan Peters said Monday evening.

Troopers documented two of the incidents -- where drivers were cited for going too fast for the conditions -- in an online dispatch.

In the first, troopers said a 21-year-old slid through an intersection at Seldon Rd., and crashed into a woman's truck. There were no reported injuries.

In a second incident around 6:30 p.m, Dawn Maxwell, 30, lost control of the Ford Freestyle she was driving while heading north on the Parks Highway near the Hyer and Fairview Exit in Wasilla. She rolled an unknown number of times and crashed into a ditch, troopers said. Maxwell did have an arm injury, but both she and her passenger were wearing seatbelts. Maxwell denied immediate medical attention.

Chris Klint contributed to this report

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