Following a winter storm that dumped several feet of snow on the Interior, the Alaska Department of Transportation is expecting to have all roads cleared by the end of today, according to a department spokesperson.
“Conditions right now are listed as Hazardous on the Parks Highway, between Clear and not too far outside of Fairbanks,” said Caitlin Frye, with the northern region office of the Alaska Department of Transportation, in an interview on Wednesday. “Our plows are out and they are maintaining the road to the best of their ability. But this is a really crazy storm. Wind is blowing, we’ve got really heavy snow, there’s ice on the road. And visibility is poor right now.”
According to Ryan Zawislak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, the Fairbanks area saw 13.8 inches of snow from March 18 to March 24. A notice put out Wednesday morning by the Weather Service stated that the service anticipated heavy snow in the Middle Tanana Valley area, with additional accumulations of 5 to 10 inches. According to the notice, the storm was expected to last until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Frye said all roads outside of those designated Priority Level 5,the lowest priority, are expected to be cleared within 30 hours of the end of the storm. Priority Level 5 roadways are designated as “No Winter Maintenance” routes and include the Denali Highway and Taylor Highway.
“That’s our goal and expectation, assuming it doesn’t start snowing again,” Frye said.
City of Fairbanks roads are all being plowed on a regular schedule, according to Courtney Sheen, a spokeswoman for the city’s Public Works Department.
“There might be a few little bumps along the way as employees have their own personal circumstances, but we’re still fully staffed,” she said. “It’s business as usual.”
Frye said the Department of Transportation is still recommending that people don’t travel unless they need to while the roads are still coated in wet snow.
“If you must travel, be prepared for hazardous conditions,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, two tractor-trailers illustrated that fact after they both got stuck around Mile 321 Parks Highway. According to Frye, the vehicles “spun-out on a hill.”
“They had to detach the trailers and then haul them out. The first, I hear, got hauled out. There was another one that was stuck there for a while that was blocking one lane. That has now been cleared,” Frye said.
By 12:30 p.m. Wednesday the road was clear and open again.
“It’s still pretty hairy out there,” Frye said. “It would be a good idea to stay in if you can.”
The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 511.
With the storm over, temperatures are forecast to drop again, according to the Weather Service, with highs around 5 below zero to 10 below zero.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.