Unprecedented rain mixed with snow causes vast power outages, poor road conditions in Fairbanks

Interior Alaska dealing with stormy, icy weather
Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 8:30 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The rain was relentless in Fairbanks over the weekend and into Monday as the Golden Heart City and surrounding areas dealt with extremely icy roads. The area continues to deal with power outages affecting thousands of members according to the Golden Valley Electric Association.

The electric association told Alaska’s News Source they have all available crews working and have called up help from Anchorage to assist in the recovery effort. The heavy snow followed by the rain and cooler temperatures caused ice buildup on trees, causing them to touch power lines leading to small outages.

The utility’s outage map showed more than 200 outages and more than 4,000 members still without power as of Monday evening.

Golden Valley said response times have been slower due to the icy roads and they’re warning customers in rural areas it could take until Thursday to receive help. GVEA Spokesperson Meadow Bailey advises people without power to stay home if they can safely or find somewhere else to stay until their power is restored.

“We actually asked today (Monday) that people to remain home if possible and not go out onto the roads as they are pretty hazardous still,” City of Fairbanks Communications Director Teal Soden said on Monday.

The significant rain caused issues for Fairbanks’ plow crews and they were unable to respond right away because the freezing rain that followed the snow on Sunday interfered with their equipment, according to Soden.

“This is kind of unprecedented weather for our area,” she said.

They were able to resume plowing on Monday when the weather eased up.

“A lot of people in the city and even outlying areas are having a hard time getting through their neighborhoods,” Soden said. “Our 911 dispatch center received several calls for vehicles in distress because folks were going out and the roads were — it was just like ice rinks.”

She added the City of Fairbanks, and the Fairbanks North Star Borough were closed for non-essential workers. They also announced Fairbanks City Hall would be closed on Tuesday as well.

Sunday’s 1.93 inches of precipitation was record-setting according to the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. It was the new daily record, the wettest December day on record, and the third wettest day on record any time of the year.

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