Winter tire changeover: Don’t let snowfall catch you off guard

Date for studded tire use in Anchorage moved up to this Thursday
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:56 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Don’t let the first significant snowfall catch you off guard.

Currently, people north of the 60-degree parallel are able to switch over to studded tires. That includes the Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Interior.

Normally, the date for those south of the 60-degree parallel and in Anchorage to be able to use studs is Oct. 1. However, the Municipality of Anchorage announced Tuesday evening it has moved that date up to Thursday, Sept. 23 due to weather conditions.

The municipal traffic engineer issued the order to change this season’s date for when studded tires are allowed based on weather conditions that began Tuesday morning “and upcoming anticipated snow-cover,” according to a public notice from the city.

While there’s no penalty for not having winter tires in the state, Alaska State Troopers say they encourage them, or at least tires with adequate tread heading into the wintry months.

“Some people select the Blizzaks, or a different type of winter tire,” said Lt. Freddie Wells. “The studded tires seem to be the best fit for Alaska. Alaska roadways have hard ice on the surface, and so the studded metal tips in the tires grip the ice a bit better and affords them a greater ability to stop.”

According to the National Weather Service, 70% of winter weather-related deaths occur in vehicles and about 25% of all winter-related fatalities are when people are caught off guard in a storm. Alaska State Troopers say safety isn’t just about the tires.

“We want to ask the public also to make sure that their vehicles are prepared, and they are prepared,” said Wells. “That includes having winter gear inside the car, as well as a snow shovel. We also ask that they be prepared to take a little extra time to stop and maybe prepare a little bit earlier to go out on their journey each day.”

Correction: The original article had incorrectly stated it was currently legal for Anchorage residents to switch over to studded tires, which is not the case, and to reflect the correct dates for studded tire changeover.

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