Heavy snow and strong winds add to Turnagain travel woes

Winter Storm Warnings in effect into early Friday morning
Heavy snow and high winds Thursday night into Friday will add to travel troubles that have plagued Turnagain Pass this week.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:14 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Heavy, wet snow was already falling and accumulating quickly at the top of Turnagain Pass early Thursday afternoon.

The heavy snow tops off a week of travel headaches along the Seward Highway from near Girdwood through the pass. First came the freezing rain on Monday, which turned the roadway into a sheet of ice, making it nearly impassable. While conditions have improved the past couple of days, Michelle Weston, chief of Girdwood Fire and Rescue noted that “there are also a lot of ice transitions, where they haven’t been able to scrape all the ice off right now.”

That caused areas of standing water along portions of the highway Thursday morning.

“From bird Flats, basically, the whole northbound lane is underwater right now,” Weston said. “As well as a lot of the lanes as you go south from bird to girdwood. So a lot of standing water, to the point that basically the entire one lane is pretty much underwater at Bird Flats. That’s probably the worst part right now.”

Unfortunately, another storm will bring heavy snow and high winds into Friday morning.

“I would be concerned with those 65 mph winds that are predicted for Portage and Turnagain Pass,” Weston said. “And then also the heavy snow that is predicted for Portage and Turnagain pass, which right now is supposed to be a foot to a foot and a half.”

As a result of the chaos from earlier in the week, Weston reminds people of a few things. First, “... is to check the weather before you go, also, have patience especially with the standing water and hydroplaning.”

Second, she recommends “two hands on the wheel, slow down a bit, and have patience for other drivers, and then take breaks if you can.”

Lastly, be on the lookout for any first responders.

“If you do see an ambulance, or fire crew, out there working in this weather, or the police, please give them room to work and to just slow down when you are going past an emergency scene,” Weston said.

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