A powerful snowstorm hit Anchorage and droped 7 to 8 inches of snow. South central Alaska was hit the hardest. The snowstorm hit Girdwood, and the Kenai as well. In Anchorage the snowfall caused icy conditions and the police warned of problems on the many icy hills throughout the Anchorage area. The timing of the storm also caused commuter problems and one of the many accidents involved a school bus and a People Mover bus.
Icy conditions on the roads caused multiple concerns. Most people had already put their studded snow tires on but this storm challenged even the most prepared drivers. Residents of Anchorage woke up to more snow than was expected. After digging out vehicles they hit the roads to make their commute to work or to drop off kids at school. Many roads had not been plowed yet and the slippery conditions sent many drivers into spins and slides. Drivers were unable to get enough traction to get through intersections. Traffic backed up at lights as many intersections had such icy conditions that drivers could not get through the intersection but remained at the light. As people sat in line to get through intersections it was common to see another vehicle sliding out of control while trying to navigate a turn.
Many delays experienced due to snow plows timing. The timing of the storm couldn’t have been worse. Just as the streets were piling up with enough snow to need plowing, rush hour began. Still the plows came out in force. The plows which are staggered with three plows started pushing the snow out of the way. The busiest roads were plowed first. However, this plan caused some problems. The plows tied up traffic behind them. People could not go faster then about 10 mph. This was occurring on the most heavily traveled roads. Trying to take back roads was not an option since none of the streets had been plowed. The result: traffic jams frustrating drivers and city officials.
One accident involved a school bus and a People Mover bus. The icy conditions caused the accident with a school bus which was pulled over to the side of the road. The school bus driver anticipated the need for chains to make it up the icy hills. While out of the bus that carried 40 school age children a truck attempting to go around the bus slid out of control and hit the bus. Following this mishap a People Mover bus was trying to avoid both of these vehicles and instead collided into the accident making it a three car pile up. Fortunately, the buses did not have major damage.
This snow storm continued to drop snow on the Anchorage area throughout the day. The result of this badly timed storm was icy road conditions that posed many problems to the residents of Anchorage. Intersections were iced over and without any hope until gravel trucks could drop their load on them. Seasoned winter drivers were challenged to get through icy intersections. Many drivers slid and spun out of control landing them in the ditches. One school bus carrying children was involved in an accident and the snow plows, though their services were needed, snarled morning rush hour traffic. It’s a good thing Alaskans are known for their resiliency and laid back attitude as it was put to good use yesterday morning.