Southcentral Alaska schools closed amid snowstorm, power outages

a bridge and snow covered roadways
Snow on the Glenn Highway’s Eagle River bridge on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (From 511.alaska.gov)

A massive snowstorm that intensified overnight Wednesday has closed most Southcentral Alaska schools Thursday, with electric crews restoring power from several outages.

School districts in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough, as well as the Kenai Peninsula Borough, have declared a remote learning day for Thursday due to the storm. The University of Alaska Anchorage is also closed for the day.

State of Alaska offices in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough have also closed for the day. In Anchorage, People Mover and AnchorRIDES bus service has been canceled for the day.

Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch early Thursday that the Seward Highway between Portage and Crown Point was “impassable” due to snow and stranded vehicles, despite state road crews’ efforts to clear the highway.

“Winter driving conditions exist on the entire Kenai Peninsula and extreme caution should be taken preferably for essential travel only,” troopers wrote.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Renee Oistad reported no crashes but 33 stranded vehicles between midnight and 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

“It is advisable for people to stay off the roads, if possible, to give the plows a chance to clear off the major thoroughfares,” Oistad said in an email.

The National Weather Service said online that 9 inches of snow fell in Anchorage on Wednesday, more than an inch beyond the previous record set in 1982. Early-season snowfall this winter has shattered local records, including both Wednesday’s dump and Sunday’s first persistent snowfall in Anchorage.

The storm brought several power outages across the region, with Chugach Electric reporting power losses in Hope and Girdwood early Thursday. The Matanuska Electric Association reported about 550 members without power Thursday morning after a 1,600-member outage in the Chugiak, Mirror Lake and Eklutna areas. The Homer Electric Association initially reported about 3,700 members without power primarily in Sterling, with about half of those members’ service restored by 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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

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