Many Anchorage residents who live east of the Seward Highway awoke on Friday to a blanket of snow, two days after the fall equinox.
National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Shriver said South Anchorage saw the most snow fall: over 1 foot.
“The biggest report that we did get so far is 14.7 inches officially, and that is out on upper De Armoun Road, near the intersection of Rabbit Creek Road and De Armoun,” Shriver said. “Basically out there in the upper Hillside.”
Other areas on the Hillside saw between 10 and 12 inches, with 3 to 4 inches in Eagle River and East Anchorage.
The earliest measured snowfall on record in Anchorage was exactly 40 years ago: Sep. 24. 1981. Shriver said there was a lot of anticipation as to whether the city would break or tie the record.
But official measurements are taken at the Ted Stevens International Airport in West Anchorage, which barely recorded a trace of snow. Shriver said that it’s unlikely that’s enough to be official.
“That’s almost definitely not going to happen,” Shriver said. “It’s warmed up above freezing now, so any snow that we do get for the rest of the day, which is not going to be much, that’s not going to be sticking. It’s going to be melting.”
So, while some parts of Anchorage got a foot of snow, according to the weather service, it still hasn’t snowed yet in Anchorage.
“I know it’s ridiculous, but that’s kind of the way it works,” Shriver said.
Official or not, the snow did lead to a number of closures. The Anchorage School District closed all schools and canceled all after-school activities except for high school sports competitions. The University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University were also closed for the day.
Chugach Electric, the city’s electric utility, reported thousands of power outages starting as early as Thursday night, with other sporadic outages into Friday.
Chugach spokeswoman Julie Hasquet said because the snowfall was earlier in the season than normal, maintenance crews ran into problems.
“The leaves are still on the trees, which makes the trees so much heavier than they would normally be in a winter storm,” Hasquet said. “So the snow causes the trees to bend over on the power lines, the lines are sagging, and our crews have to go through and they have to clear the lines of snow and any trees before they can be safely re-energized.”
Hasquet said crews will be restoring power to more customers all night Friday, and will continue working into the weekend until everyone is restored. She says not everyone’s power will be restored by Friday night, and advises Anchorage residents should charge electronics and have warm blankets and emergency supplies ready, as some outages could last for more than a day.