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. Scott

    Send some snow our way, Alaska! We could use it, and I just got laid off so would love an excuse to be a kid again and play in the snow. How bout we start with a foot and go from there... thanks Alaska!

    January 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jazzy

    Upstate New York was absolutlely wonderful today. It's 41 right now and I just barely needed my winter jacket. Love it!!!

    January 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sierra Mtn Gal

    @Rocky Mtn Gal – we are the same! No snow and everyone is hurting. Yep, Alaska can send some our way. This year is making us Sierra people wonder if it is all going to come in the spring, and no one will come up to ski... 🙁

    January 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gary

    Seriously, a prize to the first comrad that correctly identifies George Bush as responsible for
    this situation.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marge

      HE IGNORED GLOBAL WARNING. Global warning causes extreme areas of cold. If you don't believe me just go to the internet and search or better yet go to the library AND READ A BOOK. somthing that was beyond Bush's capablity.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      GWB pumped too much hot air into the atmosphere making his "case" to invade Iraq. We're now seeing the result of all that hot air which has melted polar ice caps and put more H2O into the atmosphere. That means more rain, more snow, more extreme weather.

      Did I win?

      January 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      Well it looks like Marge wins the Blame-Bush prize! Congrats Marge!

      January 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. duh

    why would you live there, i mean seriously...

    January 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • flannel

      If you don't already understand why, then there is no explaining it to you.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • kj

      I live here because the job market is strong, the annual PFD, salmon/halibut fishing in the summer, heliskiing in the winter, the wildlife, no tax.... the list goes on and on. You have to be strong and determined to make it here. Plus this weather is population control!!!!!!

      January 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vitsing

      Have to agree 150% with Flannel!!

      It's like explaining to NON-Harley Riders. If you don't already understand why, then there is no explaining it to you.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ari

      If you make it through the winters, the summers are absolutely amazing. Cool weather, super long days, great outdoor activities.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ATLmatt

    i would move

    January 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gahh

    Send some of that snow to Tx. Some of us would love to see snow in the DFW area, just not that much. The question is, why do you people live in such a desolate place? Even Palin lives in Anchorage, I think.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SuZieCoyote

    Please send extra snow to Breckenridge, CO, c/o SuZieCoyote. We will be forever grateful.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Phil

    Is Palin dead? If so, that's good news.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polar Bear

      Wishing people dead. Nice! What a guy Phil!

      January 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mabel

      We need Palin alive for comic relief.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      @ bi-polar bear

      Palin, Bachmann, Romney and Santorum. Those are people I wouldn't miss if they died. In fact, I would throw a party.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jimbo

    I would give my left testicle for that much snow here in the mountains of Colorado, we have jack for snow right now. People who don't like the snow, good for you, less of you around my snow the better.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. clarke

    that is alot of snow. I feel bad for them, really I do.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Polar Bear

    Oil and snow. Can the lower 48 have some of both? We know you've got more than you're telling!

    January 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mizh

    I do hope you guys get some precip in TX, gahh. It's been rather temperate here in NM too, but I know your state is majorly hurting. best wishes.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Polar Bear

    I think we ought to sell Seward's Folly to the Chinese for 20 trillion, about what the national debt will be in a couple of years. We'll throw in the snow for free. And then we can start all over again. At the current rate, it would be back to 20 trillion 5 years after that, or about, right? Well, then we can sell California.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Zutronic

    Yikes! Sounds like they need to bundle up and start shoveling and plowing so they aren't stuck in their homes for longer than they have to be.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
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