‘I am so sick of rain’: Girdwood smashes records for rainfall

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:11 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday morning, the rain took a brief break in Girdwood and the snow capped mountains glowed in the sunlight.

Kyle Kelley, the service area manager in Girdwood, pointed out the damage to the bridge on Ruane Road that connects the town to the water treatment plant and waste transfer site after relentless rain showers doused the area for the past five days. Access to large equipment at the treatment center area was cut off when the road washed out on Sunday.

Kelley says a permanent fix could cost up to $2 million.

A temporary fix for the winter, he said, could be between $200,000 to $250,000. That has to happen to connect the town to vital equipment that is now cut off from Girdwood.

The permanent fix will happen in the spring, Kelley said.

Ruane Road in Girdwood washed out due to heavy rains on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.
Ruane Road in Girdwood washed out due to heavy rains on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.(Dave Leval)

After the bridge collapsed, the sewer and natural gas lines were left exposed, although Kelley said nothing is damaged. Kelley said it was a large tree that clogged the culvert, which lead to the damage and the road washing away.

“The creek had just eroded the whole road system, and the reason for it was a tree got plugged in one of the culverts,” Kelley said.

California Creek was still high Wednesday morning and city crews were busy building new driveways that also had washed away from nearby homes.

“We have damage here, we have damage in Echo Ridge (Drive), Loveland, Brighton,” Kelley said. “So we have it in actually several spots.”

According to data from the weather station at the base of Alyeska, Girdwood has had about a foot and a half of rain over the past five days. At Hightower Pub, locals enjoyed the brief break from the deluge and snacked on breakfast burritos, mimosas and fresh coffee.

“That was just about as much rain as I’ve seen since I came,” Raleigh Hill, the owner of the restaurant, said. “Just kept coming and coming and coming.”

Alaska’s News Source Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey says looking at records, this amount of rain “smashes any previous records.”

Frey said since Friday afternoon until Wednesday morning, 17.71 inches of rain fell. The previous record, she says, for the base of Alyeska was 11.37 inches in November 2007. Portage also has record breaking rains with 25.89 inches as of Wednesday.

The previous record was set in 2007 with just 20.24 inches.

Frey says Girdwood has had more than a month’s worth of normal November precipitation in just the first two days of the month.

Hill said most people have one thing to say about the wet conditions: “I am so sick of the rain.”

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