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. Kookmyer

    Can't be that bad, the lights are still on.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mbevel

      If I lived in Alaska I would have portable generators to make sure I had heat and electricity when storms hit. Not sure judgements can be made based on whether lights on are in a photo.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      It's probably more of lite and fluffy snow instead of the heavy wet snow.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Do you know Rob Kendall? It's not often you see a handel as kookmyer, especially spelled that way.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      Yep i agree George. It cnt possibly be the wt heavy snow b/c then they would defienetely not hav power unless they had genorators, but WOWWWW thts alot a' snow! I wish we got more snow then we do now down here in NJ. We havent gotten ANY snow yet other then october which was weird but other then tht, NONE! AND ITS THE BEGGINNG OF JANUARY!!! COME ON SNOWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!:(

      January 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kookmyer

      Mbevel, I was kidding...

      January 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kookmyer

      John, sorry I don't. But I take it he and I are both fans of the comic character?

      January 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    m.s.: SSDD. Miss you. Text me?

    January 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mary Jane

    I miss snow. PA never gets any snow. We get a dusting and that's it. (Damn sub tropics)

    January 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Breck5

      PA never gets any snow? What? Maybe this winter so far...but please.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. doug

    structure in the picture has a bigger problem of heat loss through the cicles are dead giveaway for that. i am in Fairbanks and it warmed up to -25 today! LOL!

    January 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. d t shidle

    If that picture is supposed to convince me they 18 feet of snow... sorry. It looks like less than 2 feet. Maybe you should get a better photographer.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JamesT

      While I agree this photo doesn't look like 18 feet looking at the sloping walkway up to the front door clearly looks like it's cut into at least 6 feet of snow.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ideas1234

      you guys have no brains. I am sure they displaced the snow as it fell and snow will compact too. jees.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. borisjimbo

    Yep, no global climate change, none here, move along.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • auld

      Hey warming puts more moisture in the air......hence the increased snowfalls. You need to do some reading on global warming.

      And PS: NO ONE is saying that human activity is causing global warming.....the theory is, our industrial activities are accelerating a natural process.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mattyj

      Apparently, somebody doesn't have the sarcasm plug in for firefox...

      January 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AKTeamo

    What about the town of Valdez 50 miles away? They have 290" of snow.....Thats 24 feet....Guess their just a little tougher.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • AngiG

      There are a few differences. The biggest being they aren't having to send in the National Guard to rescue Valdez. At the bottom – Valdez reports nearly 16 inches of snow Sunday, alone.

      January 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Heywood Jablome

    I like beans!

    January 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael Rae

    15 years in St Paul mn were enough cold and snow for me it was 77 in Chas SC today and no snow tee shirt and house shoes. I wonder what that girl that use to work here is thinking now that she moved to alaska

    January 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AKTeamo

    Look it up on Google..... KVAK Radio.....Those folks deal with snow....I beleive it is the snow capitol of the US.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. on the beach

    Wow it snowed in alaska. Next up on breaking news, its sunny in Philadelphia.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tracy


    January 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bobo

    -35 degrees with -60 windchill in Northwest Alaska. Would rather deal with snow than this freezing cold!

    January 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kookmyer

    See!!! Glen Beck was right you j3rks!

    January 9, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. epona

    So that's where it's all at!

    January 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kookmyer

      Don't end your sentence in a preposition.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • AngiG

      As my first winter in Iowa languishes in 40 degree temperatures and less than an inch of snow since November, I said the same thing. THEY ARE STEALING MY SNOWS! (Oddly, I lived in Cordova when I was a little thing!)

      January 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
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