It’ll likely take 2 weeks to clear snow from Eagle River road after massive avalanche, officials say

snow on road
After mitigation efforts, Anchorage officials began moving snow from an avalanche on Hiland Road in Eagle River on March 28, 2022. (Office of Emergency Management)

Anchorage and state officials say it’ll likely take two weeks to clear snow and debris from a major Eagle River road after last week’s huge avalanche.  

The avalanche tore down a mountainside Thursday evening, blocking Hiland Road and severing access to main roadways for residents of more than 100 homes.

At a news conference Sunday, Municipal Manager Amy Demboski underscored the size of the avalanche. It’s estimated at roughly 300 to 450 feet wide and up to 80 feet deep.

“It has been described by avalanche experts as a once in 100-year event,” Demboski said.

By Monday, no residents had been reported injured or missing, and power had been restored to most impacted homes. Demboski said snow buried a few vehicles, and a mother-in-law home was pulled off its foundation and moved several hundred feet.

While the road remains blocked, city officials have carved a path so residents can travel in the area by snowmachine if they need to get to their homes or leave them.

Those residents were ordered to evacuate by Mayor Dave Bronson on Sunday so emergency officials could mitigate the chance of another avalanche, said Demboski.

“Mitigation efforts include the placement of explosives by helicopter in areas designated by the avalanche mitigation expert, which is employed by the state of Alaska,” she said.

City officials said the uncontrolled release of snow at an unknown time could have led to the loss of lives. They reported that the mitigation efforts were a success, and residents were allowed to return to their homes at around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, after about 8 hours. 

City spokeswoman Misty Nesvick said workers will begin removing snow Monday and are expected to finish clearing the road in two weeks. Emergency teams are continually monitoring conditions to ensure it’s safe to truck out the snow, she said. 

“Every day they’ll monitor and make sure nothing changed overnight,” she said. “If nothing changes overnight, we move snow, rinse and repeat. So it’s going to be check, move snow, everybody shut down. Check, move snow, everybody shut down.”

She said the city is looking to have a more long-term remedy for travel while the road is cleared. 

Over the weekend, both Bronson and Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued disaster declarations in response to the avalanche.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

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