Alaska town digging its way out after record 18 feet of snow
Several homes in Cordova, Alaska, are buried after weeks of record snowfall.
January 9th, 2012
03:33 PM ET

Alaska town digging its way out after record 18 feet of snow

Snow in Alaska doesn't usually make big headlines, but even The Last Frontier has extremes.

Cordova, an isolated coastal town of about 2,000 people about 150 miles east of Anchorage, appears to be one of the hardest-hit locales, with the state National Guard reporting that it was sending Guardsmen and resources Monday after weeks of record snowfall left the city  buried under 18 feet of the white stuff.

The state activated its State Emergency Operations Center on Friday to help Cordova handle the snow. The town had issued a disaster declaration earlier in the day.

Cordova is "isolated off the state highway system," according to the Guard, and the sea and airport are the only way in and out of the area. The National Guard sent resources to Cordova as conditions worsened and residents scrambled to dig themselves out Monday.

“Cordova is continuing their outstanding job responding to several weeks of intense snowfall,” John Madden, director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a statement. “Cordova utilized all of their snow management resources to maintain emergency access but now face a new round of storms that will bring heavy snow and perhaps rain.”

The most recent storm alone brought 42 inches of snow to the town, according to a news release from the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Photos from state agencies showed entire homes buried under snowdrifts and workers removing snow - 4 to 5 feet high in some places - from rooftops. The National Weather Service office in Alaska and the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management had myriad storm pictures on their Facebook pages.

Though some buildings have collapsed under the weight of snow, Cordova issued a news release saying that no homes had been damaged in a recent avalanche and that a major highway had been reopened, but schools remained closed Monday. The news release warned residents that conditions were "treacherous" and advised against any unnecessary travel that would impede the work of snow removal and safety crews.

Furthermore, the National Guard warned that as more snow and rain fall in Cordova, "avalanche danger remains very high."

With 39 inches in November and 82 inches last month, according to the Cordova Electric Cooperative, residents told the local newspaper that they haven't seen this much snow since the 1970s. One woman told a reporter from The Cordova Times that she began sobbing uncontrollably over the sight of more snow last week.

The roofs of buildings were submerged, businesses were seeing only a handful of customers, the beeping sounds from heavy equipment can be heard day and night, youngsters were making money shoveling out businesses and residents, and there was a rumor that a front-end loader had picked up a Subaru, the paper reported.

Though Cordova appeared to be facing the brunt of Mother Nature this week, various other parts of Alaska have seen record temperatures, precipitation and snowfall in the last week:

- Nome's Tuesday and Wednesday temperatures of -37 and -38 both broke decades-old records. On Monday, there was news that a U.S. Coast Guard cutter was helping a Russian tanker smash through ice up to 4 feet thick to deliver fuel to the iced-in locale.

- Cold Bay had 3.1 inches of snow on Wednesday alone.

- Galena had a record low of -54 on Saturday, beating the 1997 record of -52.

- The temperature in St. Paul reached a record 0 on Saturday.

- Record precipitation was recorded Sunday at the Haines and Juneau airports.

- Bethel had a low of -32 on Sunday, tying a record set in 1952, 1963 and 1975.

- Fairbanks reported Monday that it had experienced snow every day for 22 consecutive days.

- And Valdez saw 15.2 inches of snow Sunday, shattering the 2001 record of 10.5 inches.

- The Anchorage Daily News reports that the city's average snowfall each winter is 74.5 inches. As of Friday, it had already seen 70 inches.

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Filed under: Alaska • U.S. • Weather
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. banasy©


    January 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • LAR

      I though John Madden was great on Monday night football. I hope he can handle this mess!

      January 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jakeo

      Actually the ex-Devils just signed with the Panthers

      January 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You ought to see me with an overhead projector and a marker.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. a giraffe

    I'm OK

    January 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • k9zgirl

      I'm not!! BOL!

      January 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    Makes me homesick....hello m.s! Hows e.l.t?

    January 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOMBO ©

    Well, Alaska got our snow. The ground is almost bare here. Not that I'm complaining, I hate shovelling the stuff.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marine5484 that where it has been all winter......quit hogging all the snow to yourselves! I want to go snowboarding on some real snow.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ChicagoMan

    I lived in Chicago for 7 years, and know what it was like -30 with wind-chill factor. But constant -30 or -40 are something unimaginable.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Please–I want you to have it.
    Take all of the snow for yourself this year.
    I'll wait.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy

    Holy chamoly thats alot of snow! @ raven, where have you been girl? Ive texted you a few times and hadnt heard back, so i assumed youve been taking care of your mom. Everything ok?

    January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    Sounds like global warming to me

    January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Precisely. Extreme variances in climatic conditions are a result of global warming.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve2

      Sounds more like Alaska to me. Meanwhile place in the NE which normally have several feet of snow on the ground, have none. What does that sound like to you?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Paul, when you want to make more ice cubes, do you turn down the temperature in your freezer? No, you add more water to the freezer, held in some ice cube trays, and you'll get more ice cubes even if your freezer warms up a couple of degrees.

      Well warmer oceans add more water to the atmosphere – a lot more. So as long as that water vapor ends up someplace below freezing you'll end up with a bunch of extra snow.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • pockaleelee

      Exactly, ME! More accurate to call it what it is: Manmade Climate Change! Enjoy!

      January 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. k9zgirl

    It's beautiful, but Praying no injuries or heart attacks!

    January 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. johnharry

    send them billions of dollars in aid just like Katrina.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve2

      How many houses were destroyed? How many people died? How is this like Katrina in any way?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. us1776

    This is what happens when you have the arctic seas remaining unfrozen.

    It causes much more water to evaporate into the atmosphere and causes huge snowfalls.

    This type of thing is only going to get worse as the earth continues to suffer climate change.


    January 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaEd

      I am sure that the earth doesn't give a fig about, let alone suffer, more or less snow somewhere on its surface.

      Man might suffer, especially if it happens to impact his life and what he thinks of as "normal".

      January 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lmpeters

    I want some snow!!!! It's January and in the 50's where I'm at, very odd.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Collin

    Color correction is easy to do.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rick1948

    Reminds me of why I live in North Carolina.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
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