Kodiak has seen a record-breaking streak of cold days, with record-low temperatures measured on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
On Sunday, a record low temperature of 2 degrees was recorded at the Kodiak airport, breaking the previous record for Jan. 5 of 3 degrees recorded in 1949. On Monday, a record low temperature of 2 degrees was again recorded in Kodiak, edging out a 6 degree record from 1918. On Jan. 7, a record low of minus 1 degree was recorded, breaking the previous daily record of 2 degrees, set in 1983.
The last time Kodiak temperatures went below zero was Jan. 27, 2012. Kodiak last experienced three consecutive days of record lows in December 2001, with temperatures between 2 and 4 degrees from Dec. 22-24. Last time Kodiak set a record low was 5 degrees, recorded on Dec. 20, 2018.
An area of clouds and low pressure is forecast for Kodiak on Tuesday, bringing slightly warmer temperatures and breaking the streak of records. The record low for Jan. 8 is 3 degrees, recorded in 1972.
More snow is expected on Thursday, with 5 inches in the forecast and 20 to 30 mph winds, making travel difficult.
The National Weather Service was unable to provide figures on snow accumulation in recent days. However, significant snowfall blanketed Kodiak on Friday, with residents waking up to snow-filled streets on Saturday. Local snow plowing business owners noted that they haven’t seen such heavy snowfall in Kodiak in more than five years.
“It’s impacted us with a lack of sleep,” said Sam Rohrer, owner of Kodiak Lawn Care, which plowed driveways and lots for 80 businesses Saturday.
Rohrer said that on Saturday alone he fielded 168 phone calls and 35 text message strings.
“When you have that many phone calls, you can’t take a call without missing a call,” he said. The business includes 11 crew members, which offer both shoveling and snow plowing services to residents and businesses.
Rohrer said that with heavy snowfall at all hours of the day, it’s been hard to keep up. Crews have been working for up to 15 hours a day, with machinery operated more than 20 hours consecutively on some days.
“Snow removal is easy when the snow quits at midnight and we have all night to plow. When it starts snowing in the early morning and snows through the day, it makes our job much more hazardous, because there’s so much more traffic,” Rohrer said.
He advised that drivers and pedestrians should watch out for plowing machines. Plow drivers often have limited visibility and are working to clear roads and lots as fast as possible, he said.
According to Kodiak Island Borough School District Superintendent Larry LeDoux, the district has faced some challenges with snow removal.
“We have pictures of our crossing guard standing pretty much up to their waist in snow, trying to get kids across the street,” LeDoux said.
School areas remain a top priority for both the Department of Transportation and Public Works plowing crews.
Craig Walton, director of Public Works, said city snow removal crews have been working 13 to 15 hours per day, with an emphasis on clearing roads adjacent to schools, the downtown area and Mill Bay Road before moving on to the Aleutian Homes neighborhood and branching out from there. Walton said that crews begin work at 3 a.m. and usually go home for the day at 5 p.m., sometimes staying later.
“That makes for long days, and if it’s day after day, I have to give them a rest,” Walton said.
Vehicles parked along roadsides has made clearing streets more challenging, according to Walton. He advised vehicle owners to park in their driveway whenever possible and advised people to be patient on snowy days.
Clearing snow from sidewalks is the responsibility of homeowners immediately adjacent to the sidewalk. Walton said that whenever possible, the city tries to minimize snow berms on sidewalks, but on heavy snow days, crews may have to push snow up to sidewalks.
“There’s nowhere else to put it,” he said. “With this amount of snow, we have to push it back to make sure there’s room for traffic.”