Much of the state received a dense blanket of snow Wednesday, with law enforcement agencies reported relatively few crashes in Southcentral Alaska while winter storm warnings are in effect for parts of the Interior and Western Alaska.
From midnight through 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker says 88 vehicles in distress were reported in Anchorage Wednesday -- a total he described as “not bad” for a cold winter day, compared to over 100 such calls received on Sunday. Eighteen crashes have been reported to APD, as well as two more crashes with injuries.
Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen says troopers have been informed of two crashes and four vehicles in distress in the Mat-Su Valley from midnight through 10 a.m. Wednesday, with no such calls reported on the Girdwood commute in the same time period.
National Weather Service storm warnings for the Lower Koyukuk and Middle Yukon valleys, as well as eastern Norton Sound and the Nulato Hills, are in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday. Expected snow depths in the affected areas -- including Galena, Nulato, Huslia, Kaltag, Ruby, Koyukuk, Unalakleet, Stebbins, St. Michael, Elim, Koyuk and Shaktoolik -- range from 6 to 10 inches, with snowfall heaviest in the Nulato Hills.
“Snow will continue through tonight,” meteorologists wrote in the warnings. “Travel and outdoor activities will be difficult and hazardous.”
A travel advisory was issued Wednesday morning for a large section of the Parks Highway because of low visibility and blowing and drifting snow. It extends from Mile 163, south of Cantwell, to Mile 334, at the Parks Monument.
The advisory also covers travel north of Fairbanks to the Elliott Highway and the first 28 miles of the Dalton Highway.
Channel 2 meteorologist Scott Elnes told the Morning Edition that much of the state’s forecast features precipitation falling from warmer air through a lower layer of cold air, then reaching the ground as freezing rain to create what he described as “very dangerous conditions” in affected areas.
While Ipsen credits motorists for apparently heeding forecasters’ calls to drive more carefully, she says the freezing-rain forecast could make things much worse.
“If we get that rain, it'll be a whole different ball game,” Ipsen said.
Contact Chris Klint