Anchorage and Mat-Su schools closed after 3rd major snowstorm hits the region

Cars on a Snowy Highway
Heavy traffic on the Glenn Highway northbound on Wednesday evening. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage got slammed by another snowstorm overnight, pushing snow totals for the city to more than 3 feet in less than two weeks.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Shaun Baines said the latest storm dumped between 8 and 12 inches of snow throughout the Anchorage area by about 5 a.m. Thursday, and hit the Mat-Su Borough, too.

“It looks like the Matanuska Valley was generally 6 to 12 inches,” said Baines. “There was a little bullet of higher snow in the Big Lake area where we had a report of 16 inches.”

The region has now had back-to-back-to-back major snowstorms this month. Anchorage was still digging out of the first two storms when the third one hit Wednesday evening, clogging roads and further burying sidewalks. The storm closed Anchorage and Mat-Su schools again on Thursday — Mat-Su’s fourth straight remote learning day and Anchorage’s fifth snow day in just over a week. The storm also closed local state offices for the day, university campuses and canceled People Mover public bus service.

Baines said over the last 11 days the weather service office in West Anchorage has measured a total of 41.1 inches of snow. For that amount of time, it’s the second-highest snow total for Anchorage on record.

“The only time period that exceeded that was in February of 1996 when there was 44.3 inches over a 10 day period,” said Baines.

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A woman walks on a snowy pathway with heavy traffic.
Snow still buried sidewalks on Wednesday ahead of the city’s third major snowstorm. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)
a moose in heavy snow
A hungry cow moose approaches barren trees amid heavy snow outside a South Anchorage home on Thursday. (Chris Klint/Alaska Public Media)

The snowfall has also helped Anchorage blow past an annual liquid precipitation record for combined rain and snow — and there’s still half of December to go. The prior record was set in 1989, said Baines.

“Through yesterday, December 14, we were at 28.12 inches — so again, the old record was 27.55,” said Baines. “So every day we get precipitation, we’re going to continue to add to this new record for annual precipitation.”

The weather service and police warned of slippery roads Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Between midnight and 8:30 a.m., Anchorage police got reports of 33 “vehicles in distress,” stuck in snow or ice, plus four non-injury collisions, according to police spokeswoman Renee Oistad. Police urged drivers to clear snow from vehicles, including headlights and taillights, leave extra space for stopping distance and allow additional driving time to reach their destinations.

Baines said there is some relief ahead: There’s little to no snow in the Anchorage forecast for the next week and a half.

“There’s going to be a pretty strong ridge of high pressure building over mainland Alaska, and that’s what’s going to protect us from any of the storms,” Baines said.

Temperatures are expected to fall to subzero inland from Anchorage, according to Baines. The same conditions will also leave warm, wet air over the Aleutian Islands, with temperatures there in the 40s expected in coming days.

Snow plows at Goose Lake on Wednesday. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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