Massive avalanche closes only road into Valdez, Alaska

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Flood watch in effect.

Town officials in Valdez, a port city some 300 miles west of Anchorage, have cautioned residents to prepare to hunker down for at least a week as crews work to clear a pile of snow hundreds of feet wide from Richardson Highway.

Two major avalanches blocked the only road leading into the city of 4,000 people, cutting residents off from road travel in and out for at least a week, authorities said.

The giant ice swath was estimated to be up to 40 feet (12.2 m) deep in places.

On Monday, the National Weather Service in Anchorage issued a flash flood watch for Valdez due to a “large backup of water” that gathered behind the “avalanche dam.”

Highway access to the city at the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline has been cut off indefinitely by avalanches, including one that dammed a river and created a lake up to a half-mile long across the roadway in a 300-foot wide mountain canyon.

Coffey estimated snow is piled 100 feet high on the Lowe River and up to 50 feet high on the highway.

See photos:

See also: “Avalanches cut off only road to Alaska city”

Thanks to Anthony Scalziand, Stephen Potter and Marcus Muraca for these links

“Valdez has been cut off!” says Marcus. “Fortunately, it appears the oil will still flow. We could have a west coast shortage if the pipeline gets shut down.”

4 thoughts on “Massive avalanche closes only road into Valdez, Alaska”

  1. It appears that much of the wintery weather has shifted away from Alaska and the NW and down towards the E and SE. Temperatures here in Houston are colder than they are in Anchorage and Kodiak Island! If the temps remain in the mid 30’s to 40’s in Alaska, I am not surprised of this meltdown. It made me chuckle when the city shut down here in Houston on a forecast much less. Closed schools and businesses. Yeah, we had SOME ice but it was very manageable. Houston residents and city officials could learn a few things from those living in cold country where snow and ice is a regular life thing in the winter. People still drive to work, kids are still bused to school even in the wintery mess. Houston? They freak out here when they see a snowflake. Well, all I have to say is that they better get used to it if their businesses want to keep making money and if they want their kids schooled without having to take makeup months. It is getting colder in these here parts.

  2. Why is Alaska so dang warm this winter? Isn’t global cooling you know suppose to make Alaska colder?

    1. Nope. Even though most of Canada was buried beneath up to two miles of ice during the last ice age, much of Alaska remained comparatively ice-free.

  3. WeatherBug attributed both avalanches to melting snow on the mountains surrounding the town due to the unseasonably warm temperatures Alaska has been experiencing recently after above average snowfall in the early part of winter.

    We actually had sleet mixed with some snow today in southeast Texas. That doesn’t happen very often down here!! The local media went nuts yesterday spreading doom and gloom about another “iceamageddon” like last week, and we had nowhere near the problems today that we had last Thursday. They closed most of the local schools today, and the city offices in an effort to help out parents having to deal with their kids not going to school today. Can you say over-reaction!!!

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