Record Snowfall Causes Driving Dangers
ANCHORAGE – With more than 133.6 inches of snowfall, this winter season has officially become the snowiest on record.
National Weather Service forecasters made the announcement around 4 p.m this afternoon, after nearly four inches of April snow showers piled up throughout the day and broke the previous 1954 record by more than an inch.
But the above-freezing temperatures and fresh snow meant trouble for local drivers.
Anchorage police responded to multiple accidents throughout the day, including a six-car pileup on Rabbit Creek Road around 3:30 p.m. The road was shut down for a short period following the accident.
On Friday evening, the biggest danger came from above.
Amanda Lawton, 32, was driving north along the Seward Highway when an ice slide near Beluga Point crushed her car, pinning her inside and sending her to an Anchorage hospital in serious condition after rescuers were finally able to pull her free from the wreckage.
State transportation officials said the odds for such accidents were a million to one, despite the 100 active avalanche paths within an 89-mile stretch of the Seward Highway. Department of Transportation crews worked throughout the winter to monitor possible avalanche zones and trigger small, targeted slides while the road is closed for short period of time, but Maintenance and Operations Manager Mike Coffey said ice slides were a routine but unpredictable part of spring breakup.
The ice would land in the ditch alongside the highway, and Coffey said crews would clear them to make room for more. In fact, he said they had been working near Beluga Point just a few hours before Lawton was caught in a slide there Friday.
“The best thing that we can do is try to inform the public that there is some activity on these ice falls, and just for people to be cautious and aware while they’re driving,” Coffey said.
Because road and weather conditions can change in the blink of an eye, he said drivers should keep theirs on the road.