Overnight snow dump closes Southcentral Alaska schools, sets Anchorage seasonal record

A woman wearing a beanie and blue coat shovels her driveway.
An Anchorage resident begins shoveling her driveway on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Schools in Anchorage and most of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough were closed Monday, after a storm Sunday dumped snow across the region.

The fresh, light snow also pushed Anchorage past a seasonal snowfall benchmark at its earliest date ever.

The Anchorage School District declared a remote learning day early Monday. In the Mat-Su, only schools in the district’s Regions 1 and 7 were opening on a two-hour delayed start, with all other schools on remote learning for the day.

Anchorage police received reports of 21 crashes Sunday including five with injuries, as well as another seven non-injury and two injury crashes Monday morning. Sunday saw 33 reports of stranded vehicles, with 23 more reported Monday morning.

National Weather Service meteorologist Christopher Quesada said Monday that most of Anchorage received 13 to 14 inches of snow. Slightly lower amounts were reported north of the city, with 6 to 8 inches in parts of the Susitna Valley and 12 inches along the Parks Highway between Houston and Talkeetna.

A man carries a sled full of shovels in winter.
A man pulls a sled full of shovels along Anchorage’s Muldoon Road on Monday. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

The single largest report, Quesada said, was a measurement of 42 inches of snow along the Richardson Highway near Valdez’s airport. State transportation officials closed the highway’s Thompson Pass until at least Tuesday.

Sunday’s dump put Anchorage at a total of 101 inches of snowfall this winter – the earliest recorded date by which Alaska’s largest city has ever reached the 100-inch mark, even after last winter’s record storms.

“For reference, last year we hit 100 inches on March 10,” Quesada said.

The overnight snow was also notable for falling during Sunday’s high temperature of 2 degrees in Anchorage. Quesada said balloon launches from the Weather Service found a warmer layer of air in the 20-degree range at about 3,000 feet, which made the snow possible.

“In our records, we have 436 days with a high of 2 degrees or colder. And before yesterday, the most snow we received on those days was one and a half inches – and we received 9.9 yesterday,” Quesada said. “So it was actually quite unusual to see that much snow when the surface temperatures were so cold.”

Anchorage snowfall is expected to taper off with up to 2 more inches Monday, according to Quesada, giving way to clear skies and continued cold temperatures into the negative teens later this week.

Around the state, Juneau was expecting rain, snow and high winds this week after heavy snowfall sank boats in the local harbor last week, as state road crews reported that an avalanche Sunday night had blocked the Haines Highway. Fairbanks was at 20 degrees below zero Monday after reports of 40 below or colder over the weekend, with only sporadic snow expected this week.

a chart
A summary of estimated snow totals and weather-advisory durations for the storm. (From NWS Anchorage)
a portrait of a man outside

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

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