Snowfall Finally Arrives, Causing Some Issues
Some drivers and parents of school children distressed by conditions
ANCHORAGE - We asked and Mother Nature delivered. Some parts of Anchorage saw up to 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, making a messy commute for drivers.
The Anchorage Police Department reported relatively few problems despite the heavy snowfall. From midnight to mid-afternoon, out of about 30 accidents, only two had minor injuries, and dispatch took calls from more than 100 people with vehicles in distress.
The Alaska Department of Transportation said work on the roads started last night with sanding before the snow began. Plows headed out as the snow piled up but it was falling faster than crews could keep up with. Even main roads like Tudor were tough for drivers to navigate, and side roads that didn’t get plowed were a major problem, especially for parents bring their kids to school.
The Anchorage School District made the decision to hold classes, which is getting mixed reactions from parents.
“I think it was a bad decision. I almost got stuck coming out. I think it was a bad decision. They should have called school off today until the plows got to the streets,” said Clinton Topps who was picking up his kindergartener from North Star Elementary.
Tricia Jedlicka, however, thinks ASD made the right call. “This is normal, it's Alaska. It's what you get. You can't have your kids not get an education because there's snow on the ground.”
Bus drivers said the morning commute was a challenge and many put chains on the tires before school let out Wednesday afternoon. Drivers said the side roads are the biggest hassle.
“Small neighborhoods in Spenard, it's pretty hard because everyone parks their car in the streets, and everyone shovels their snow in the streets and it narrows it down to nothing. It's a trick,” said bus driver Harold Haynes.
The district said even though it snowed quite a few inches between when it made the decision and when school started, it stands by the choice.
Spokesperson Heidi Embley said, with snow, the roads are usually passable with caution. She said it’s the freezing rain and ice that causes problems for buses.
ASD decides at 5 a.m. whether to cancel school for the day. The district has bus drivers and maintenance staff drive the road to get a feel for the conditions, then it talks with troopers, police and the weather service. Embley says it’s not a decision ASD takes lightly because if affects thousands of families.