Icy Storm Hammers Southcentral Alaska

Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.
Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.

Icy roads are creating hazardous driving conditions in Southcentral Alaska today.

Freezing rain began coating snow at around 9am. By noon cars were stranded across Anchorage and the People Mover bus system had shut down.

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Anchorage Public Transportation Director, Lance Wilbur, says buses have been pulled off roads until sanding is completed.

“Right now the road conditions as many people know, they’re deteriorating in bad shape. Our current schedules are way down due to other vehicular accidents. We’ve got one bus in distress. And so I’ve halted all the service effective immediately, except for those busses that are on route,” Wilbur said. “We’ve asked them to stop until further notice and hopefully the conditions will improve later this evening so we can pick people up and bring them home later tonight.”

Icy conditions stretch beyond Anchorage from Seward to as far north as Talkeetna. The Valley Mover Bus system in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley is operating on a delayed schedule this afternoon but plans to make evening runs to help people get back home from work in Anchorage.

The Mat-Su Borough says there were at least three separate school bus accidents this morning, and in Wasilla near Knik Goose Bay Road one accident the bus slid onto its side off of the road. There were 14 students on board. The Mat-Su School District reports three students and one driver were transported to Matsu Regional Hospital with minor injuries. They were reportedly released.

After school activities are canceled in the Matsu School District and in Anchorage. Both districts advise delays are likely for school busses transporting students home.

University of Alaska Anchorage closed at noon.

Chugach Electric reports that the entire Kenai Peninsula from Girdwood South is without power, but Sarah Wiggers, a spokesperson for Chugach, says they don’t think it’s related to the storm.

“At approximately 11:30 a.m. Homer Electric Association had two units trip at Nikiski which in turn caused Bradley Lake and Cooper Lake units to trip offline,” Wiggers said. “Chugach customers from Girdwood South are included in this outage. Chugach and Homer are working to get all units back online.”

Wiggers says Chugach happens to be in the process of repairing the line that they would normally use to ship power from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula. She says they’re hoping to have the repair done soon so that they can ship power down if needed.

Matanuska Electric Association is also reporting that 500 members are without power in Butte, Meadow Lakes, and the area from Sutton to Matanuska Glacier.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.