Snowstorm leaves aftermath of power outages; JBER Veterans Day ceremony canceled

A man shovels snow off his car.
Ian Wahl shovels snow off his car, after a heavy overnight snowfall in Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Southcentral Alaska continued to dig out Friday from a snowstorm that peaked with more than a foot of snow, as linemen and road crews across the region restored power and cleared streets.

The storm led to the cancellation Friday afternoon of Saturday’s ceremony marking Veterans Day on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, due to “extremely hazardous road conditions on and off base.”

“We regret having to made the difficult decision to cancel the event; however, the safety and welfare of our community must always take precedent,” Alan Brown, the Alaska National Guard’s director of communications and public affairs, said in a statement. “We want to acknowledge and thank the many veterans throughout Alaska for their dedicated and selfless service to our nation.  Their service has and always will be an inspiration to us all.”

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson declared a snow emergency Thursday evening, freeing additional resources to clear local roads. In a statement, he said that street maintenance crews had responded to 40 downed trees during a 15-hour time span.

“The safety of Anchorage residents is my highest priority,” Bronson said. “We have to make sure school buses can operate and parents can get to work, and we’re working really hard to make that happen.”

The city’s plan for removing snow and ice prioritizes clearing major roads and feeder streets, but Bronson said crews would likely move to clearing residential streets starting Friday night.

People Mover bus service was again suspended Friday due to the heavy snow, with AnchorRIDES service only operating essential trips.

Schools in Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Kenai Peninsula Borough were under planned closures Friday, along with many local and state offices shuttered in observation of Veterans Day on Saturday.

Power outages remained rampant across the region, with Chugach Electric reporting significant outages in Girdwood and Hope. About half of Girdwood service was restored Thursday night, but crews were working to determine the extent of remaining outages Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, crews were dealing with new outages in Anchorage’s Campbell Airstrip and Huffman Road areas.

“The Hope situation is challenging with the line going up a mountain,” company officials wrote. “(We) will address as crews can get there and access.”

Beyond Anchorage, Matanuska Electric Association reported small, 100-member outages in Big Lake and the Pinnacle Peak area late Thursday and early Friday, with crews working on both. About 350 more members had lost power near Knik-Goose Bay Road and off Birch Harbor Drive. Homer Electric Association said that by midday Friday morning it was down to about 1,300 members without power, although its online outage map was delayed in displaying some outages.

Poor road conditions had closed the Seward Highway near Portage and a large stretch of the Richardson Highway near Thompson Pass on Thursday. But by 10:30 p.m. that night, the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said on social media that all highways in the region were open.

“All available operators are responding to this storm,” state officials said.

All Anchorage weather advisories related to the storm had cleared by Friday, with forecasts calling for light weekend snow and sunny skies by Sunday. The National Weather Service’s Anchorage office said Thursday night that local snowfall during the storm ranged from about 17 inches to 30 inches on the Anchorage Hillside, with some Kenai Peninsula and Chugach Mountains locations receiving several feet of snow.

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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