A squall that dropped barely an inch of snow Friday morning added just enough accumulation to make this the snowiest November in Anchorage since recordkeeping began in 1953.
The National Weather Service measured 1.1 inches at the agency’s Sand Lake offices between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., according to meteorologist Kristine Chen. That puts the total snow accumulation at 39.1 inches, narrowly surpassing the 1994 total of 38.8 inches, she said.
Friday’s measurement combined with several feet dumped in back-to-back storms last week and Monday set a record for the snow-weary city less than two-thirds of the way through the month.
The heavy, wet snow that fell last week compacted on roadways, leaving ruts hard-frozen into icy jeep trails that plagued even main arterials.
Mayor Dave Bronson on Wednesday said he approved an informal agreement for city plow crews to clear state-maintained roads, but at the cost of plowing out neighborhoods. Then Monday’s storm put city and state crews further behind, with many parts of the city still untouched by plows since before the snow started.
Snowy roads gave way Wednesday to high winds and warmer temperatures that added an icy glaze to surfaces. In the week since snow fouled roads last week and Thursday, Anchorage police logged more than 475 vehicles in distress and 122 collisions, 24 of them involving injuries, according to data provided by spokeswoman Sunny Guerin.
With swaths of the city still buried, the Anchorage School District shifted to remote learning Monday through Wednesday, then returned to in-person school with limited bus transportation Thursday and Friday.
Continued problems with snow removal in neighborhoods led to challenging conditions for bus drivers.
On Thursday, district officials reported delays for all routes that were running, and numerous buses got stuck including seven that required tow truck assistance in the morning and one in a minor collision in the afternoon that involved no injuries.
By Saturday afternoon, a municipal update indicated plow crews had been through 47 of 61 snow removal sectors, with 11 underway. Drivers generally reported better conditions on main routes.
The school district said in an early Friday social media post that all schools and bus routes would be operational though road conditions remain “poor,” which prompted four temporary alternate bus stops.
Two school buses became stuck Friday morning and many were delayed, according to district spokesman Corey Allen Young. Bus delays were “much better” than Thursday with improved road conditions, though surfaces remained icy, Young said in a text message.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District held in-person school all week, but with limited bus service on Tuesday and Friday. On Wednesday, 21 buses got stuck with some delayed up to 90 minutes, according to district spokeswoman Jillian Morrissey. On Thursday, three buses got stuck.
❄☃November? More like SNOW-vember! We’ve broken the monthly snowfall record for November.
As of this morning, our total of 39.1″ breaks the previous record of 38.8 inches set in 1994.
How have you been enjoying the snowiest November on record? ⛷🏂 pic.twitter.com/WRMoKzPCLg
— NWS Anchorage (@NWSAnchorage) November 17, 2023
The Glenn Highway was shut down very early Friday in both directions, according to an Anchorage Police Department alert. The highway had reopened by the main morning commute.
The closure occurred after officers responded to a single-vehicle collision involving a semitruck towing a vehicle just before 11:30 p.m., according to Guerin. No injuries were reported, she said, but the closure allowed a tow company to respond.
Downed power lines weighted with snow or felled by trees caused power outages in the region, a daily occurrence since last week that finally started easing up by Friday. By Saturday afternoon, Chugach Electric Association was reporting just a dozen or so customers without power.
Police said a chunk of ice or snow reported to have fallen off the Muldoon Road overpass Thursday afternoon penetrated the windshield of a vehicle passing below the bridge on the Glenn Highway, injuring the driver. State transportation officials said they were investigating the incident.
Friday morning’s burst of snow marks the last precipitation expected for Anchorage in the near term as temperatures plummet into the single digits through the weekend.
“We’re moving into kind of a drier spell,” Chen said. “Our next chance for seeing any kind of precipitation is probably going be late Monday night at the earliest.” [ADN]
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