Drifted snow prompts disaster declaration in Palmer

Blown snow has created ‘untenable travel conditions’
Palmer has declared state of disaster following a major windstorm, requesting aid from the state and National Guard.
Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 4:29 PM AKST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 7:26 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The city of Palmer declared a local disaster on Dec. 23 due to drifts from the feet of snow that fell recently in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The declaration was signed by Palmer Mayor Steve Carrington and Manager John Moosey, and requested assistance from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office and the National Guard.

“The following conditions exist as a result of this disaster emergency: excessive sustained winds created snow drifting conditions making numerous roads impassable; dozens of vehicles are stranded throughout Palmer; city crews are overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the drifting snow,” the declaration said. “The severity of the disaster exceeds the capability of local resources.”

Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Public Information Officer Jeremy Zidek noted that the state’s Emergency Operation Center has been in contact with the Mat-Su Borough and the city of Palmer.

“Roads clearing equipment has been working continuously, but drifting snow was an issue while the winds were blowing,” Zidek wrote in an email. “The City reported some snow clearing equipment needed repairs and those repairs are underway. A DHS&EM Emergency Management Specialist will visit the borough and city tomorrow to provide technical assistance.”

Weather forecasts provide some hope, with only light winds and a lack of snow predicted for the coming week. Zidek noted that the milder conditions should allow for progress in clearing roads.

“We are challenged with the amount of snow and the fact that the blizzard has turned the snow into a hardened concrete like mass,” Moosey wrote in an email. “Our team has been working 12 to 16 hours daily for the past two weeks. We are at full employment and all equipment is being available and being used. We have sought contractor help, call former employees, without success (they are all at capacity also). The emergency declaration was a request for state assistance. We are currently working with the State of Alaska Disaster Response Team and the Matsu Borough department of Emergency Services.”