Storm that dropped up to 8 inches of snow in Anchorage causes dozens of crashes and closes schools

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A storm that dropped up to 8 inches of snow on the Anchorage Bowl, and significantly more in parts of the Kenai Peninsula, caused dozens of accidents and closed schools in the Anchorage School District on Thursday .

Anchorage police responded to 44 vehicle crashes, including 11 injured, and 25 vehicles in distress between Wednesday, when snow began falling, and Thursday morning, according to a police spokeswoman.

A collision Wednesday closed a portion of the Seward Freeway near Dimond Boulevard for several hours, and police responded to a multi-vehicle collision on Debarr Road between Lake Otis Parkway and Airport Heights Drive Thursday morning.

The Anchorage School District has closed all schools and canceled after-school activities. District officials are aiming to let families know by 5:30 a.m. if there will be a shutdown and an early Thursday forecast had called for additional snow throughout the day, district spokeswoman Lisa Miller said.

“While the roads may be safe for buses, conditions in various parts of the community are not safe for the higher number of walkers and individual vehicles on the road,” she said.

Alaska Pacific University has canceled all in-person classes.

snow, winter, weather, moose
snow, winter, weather
snow, winter, weather

The storm’s track and duration have proven difficult to pinpoint, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kutz.

Storm totals dropped significantly as the morning progressed.

Forecasters just after 2 a.m. Thursday issued a winter weather advisory that called for an additional 6 to 9 inches of snow on Anchorage Hill and Eagle River and an additional 3 to 5 inches over the Anchorage Bowl.

But by mid-morning, he said the snow was expected to end around noon, rather than continuing into the night as originally expected. Kutz described the system as a jumble of energy that moved differently than meteorologists had predicted.

snow, winter, weather

Most of Anchorage probably saw between 4 and 8 inches of snow Thursday morning, he said. Another inch of snow was possible in the Anchorage Bowl, with 2 to 3 more inches in the Hillside.

About 4 to 5 inches of new snow was reported in Wasilla and Palmer Thursday morning, Kutz said, and 8 inches was reported in Talkeetna.

The western Kenai Peninsula saw the heaviest snow in this system as a heavy band moved into the area and dropped up to 20 inches of snow at Clam Gulch on Wednesday, with totals similar to Nikiski. Updated storm totals were not immediately available Thursday.

North and northwest winds are expected to pick up across south-central Alaska Thursday afternoon and push the storm out of the region, Kutz said. Winds could reach 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph on Thursday, he said. Gusts of up to 55 mph are possible on Friday.

Snow is possible again early next week.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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