In Bettles, a community of seven people at the foot of the Brooks Range, a storm dropped at least 2 1/2 feet of snow in what the National Weather Service described as the biggest snowstorm for the area in recent memory.
Residents of Bettles and nearby Evansville, population 15, took it in stride and still managed to gather at the Bettles Lodge for a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and moose jerky.
“That’s just part of the adventure of living in the Arctic Bush,” said Eric Fox, owner of the lodge.
The storm began on Tuesday and caused flights into Bettles to be canceled until Friday. A weather observer reported 30 inches had fallen as of Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
A few other areas of Interior Alaska also reported snowfall of about 30 inches including McGrath and Black Rapids.
In Bettles, the snowstorm was the biggest that Fox has dealt with since purchasing the lodge in 2014.
“We’ve got big piles of snow everywhere. That’s for sure,” the lodge owner said. “There are some really deep drifts. There are some places that have five or six feet.”
The owner of Arctic Runway Services worked around the clock for two days to keep the runway clear at the tiny Bettles Airport.
“There was some naps in there,” said Eric Greer, who is under contract with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
The storm was challenging but not the biggest storm that Greer has dealt with. He formerly conducted snow removal at California’s Donner Pass, one of the snowiest places in the Lower 48, including one storm that dumped 60 inches of snow.
“It was stressful. I would say that,” Greer said.
His secret is drinking lots of coffee and not getting discouraged when he returns to an area where he had just plowed only to find it blanketed in slow again.
“It’s just a matter of how long you have to stay out there,” he said.
Greer managed to keep the runway clear enough for aircraft to operate if needed.
“People count on it,” he said. “People have medication coming or family coming for some reason or a doctor’s appointment.”
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.