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. FelipeBR

    I hope Palin is buried on that snow

    January 9, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Hey Felipe, why don't you come on up and we'll see what we can do about burying you "on that snow".
      What an asinine comment.

      January 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uncle George

      Nanook: Actually, FelipeBR can't come to Alaska; he's too busy pulling his Barney Frank.

      January 9, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • 417-pc

      To Uncle George: And I was just thinking why you have always been my favorite uncle......you do have a way with words!! Good job Uncle George!!

      January 10, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      LOL!!! Good one, Felipe! These Dooshes here don't have a sense of humor. Idiotic Teabaggers.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. Luckyanme22

    Try to keep safe and warm up there in Alaska folks. Probably see a baby boom in nine months.

    January 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becky

      True. HAHA!

      January 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Luckyanme22

    Bet there will be some awesome photography coming from out of Alaska. Snowy pictures are beautiful.

    January 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bookldy209

    Please send those pineapple storms our way. No rain or snow in northern California and none forecast any time soon. No pasture growth for the ranches; no business for the ski slopes. Keep safe and snug in your homes, Alaskans.

    January 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Teri

    So, THAT'S where old man winter has been. Certainly hasn't been in TN. Love the picture up top, though.

    January 9, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      There are fabulous photos of the snow at the Anchorage Daily News, KTUU, and on YouTube. Check under Cordova for the most postings.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. NanookoftheNorth

    Hey FelipeBR, why don't you come on up and we'll see what we can do about burying you "on that snow".
    What an asinine comment.

    January 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      Shut your Alaskan pie hole

      January 10, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. thanner

    We Alaskan's never hear anything about our weather; until something like this happens. Valdez has been getting pounded too. Anchorage is having a hard time keeping up with the snow. And Fairbanks has had a really cold winter. La Nina is doing a job on us this winter throughout the entire State. High winds, really cold and lots of snow. We would sure like to send it south.:)

    January 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willowspring

      So much for global warming.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. Lynn P.

    The melting part should be interesting......

    January 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mipolitic

    did this story say 18 feet of snow , how much fresh water would this be? the reason i ask is because , the tea party could hold a get together and drink all the tea they want with out tapping into water reserves , wow maybe this could help them retain a new image as a part of the green mechine. they have ready taken the first steps a few months ago by zipping up and no longer releaseing all that hot air. hey maybe they can bring in income from the new brand, "alaska ice tea".

    January 10, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. 2doglady

    Go, USCGC Healy. God speed to the brave crew. Mama <3<3<3

    January 10, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. badcyclist

    I have seen video and stills out of Cordova, and have yet to see any evidence of anywhere near 18' of snow on the ground. Well, maybe in a drift somewhere. I have a feeling it is like the surf reports around here– take the truth and multiply by three to four to juice the story....

    January 10, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. miklas

    Global warming LOL

    January 10, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jehsea

    I'm with @banasy – WOAH! So *that's* where Colorado's ski season went!

    Seriously though, if any one of us can cast an eye around the globe at the monumental earthquakes, in places new & strange, volcanic eruptions, the incredible, fast depletion of the arctic ice shelves, slabs and icebergs comprising the Polar Bear habitat, summers where winter should be and vice-versa, completely screwed up weather patterns everywhere (we were nearly burned out of our homes last summer) – if you can look at all this about you and STILL NOT BELIEVE THE SCIENCE of Global Warming, or STILL BUY a gas-guzzling SUV or Hummer, you are a sick individual and a part of the problem, rather thsn part of the solution.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Dodge Challenger SRT8

      Glad I don't fall into that catagory of sick individuals that buy SUV's and Hummers! What about those recreational vehicle owners? (snow mobiles, 4 wheelers, etc) You know the ones that don't have to pass any emissions tests etc. All of which are safer and easier to travel in with weather like this.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Reggie

    Open a chain of Snow Cone stands!

    January 10, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. JAE HWAN LEE

    That's a hell doing it for 18 feet of snow in Alaska. But housing is glad that there is no more. Without incident and resulted in an avalanche and winter ice well, please tell us.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
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