Road conditions remain messy in Anchorage as plowing crews tackle leftovers of snowfall

On Thursday morning, the city issues a plow-out status. This occurs after the city has accumulate 4 or much inches of snow fall.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:03 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Buckets upon buckets of snow fell upon Anchorage, starting Tuesday afternoon, and it left the city covered in a blanket of 12 to 14 inches of new snowfall, as well as messy conditions on the roads for drivers.

“There are areas where there are deep snow drifts, and there are areas where the snow has been packed down,” the Alaska Department of Transportation said.

The Anchorage Police Department has reported, from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning, that they have responded to 308 vehicles in distress, in addition to 52 crashes, seven of which included injuries.

Tuesday’s snowfall was a record-breaking amount for any Dec. 6, but its unexpected total snowfall came out of the blue for city officials.

“We were expecting a pretty good snowfall but we weren’t expecting the 24, 25 inches of snowfall we received,” said Paul VanLandingham, the Municipality of Anchorage street maintenance manager. “You get up above 15, 16 inches at a time, it goes from a routine snow removal to extreme snow removal.”

For his department, VanLandingham said, that means his team has to do everything simultaneously, juggling both hauling the snow right away and plowing at the same time. It’s been a challenge also for the DOT.

“That’s been a challenge, for sure. Just with the amount of snow and the fact that it is a wetter, heavier snow,” said Justin Shelby, of the DOT.

As of Thursday afternoon, the city has 23 graders in action, seven sanders and nine sidewalk graders. Typically, VanLandingham said, he would want to have 30 graders on the road. However, seven are having mechanical issues. Despite, seven fewer graders on the streets, VanLandingham said they are in a good shape when it comes to plowing.

“We just entered all of the residential plowing this morning. So, we will be in there probably for the next four to five days,” VanLandingham said.

On Thursday morning, the city issues a plow-out status. This occurs after the city has accumulated 4 or more inches of snowfall. As of Thursday morning, the city has 11 sectors in progress, four that are facing delays and 46 still to come.

“Sunday afternoon, Monday morning people will start seeing some noticeable relief in traveling in Anchorage,” VanLandingham said.

In the meantime, the DOT has moved into tackling their major highways, after initiating a priority one plowing status on Thursday morning, with the goal of starting to clear major roads of lower volume later on Thursday. The DOT said this could be impacted if they see additional snowfall.

“If we get more snowfall we have to go back and start priority ones again,” Shelby said.

However, the city said, additional snowfall will not impact their progress. Once, they start plowing residential areas they will continue until their work is done.

“We may pull a few of our resources out and put them back on arterials. But no, once we started in these residential, with this amount of snow, we will see it through to the end,” VanLandingham said.