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. Love Snow

    Wish I were up there to enjoy that beautiful snow. I love snow – and I'm not not being facetious – but can't stand Alaskans. For now I'll just have to deal with 70 degree weather and year-round sunshine here in California.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • dan

      haha agreed, i can't stand alaskans as well

      January 10, 2012 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Kam

      And most people can't stand people who generalize 🙂

      January 10, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JimBob

      I can't stand people from California who generalize, but I do feel sorry for people whose highlight in life is the weather in the locale in which they live.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • JHinER

      I'm an alaskan and just wondering what reason you have to hate me? If you base your dislike on Palin or on the horrible TV shows that are produced that supposedly "represent" us all, well then I would probably agree with you. But let's remember there are nearly a million folks up here and they are as different as the 33 million in California and the 2 million in Oregon. I for one, work in finance. I am college educated, married to a full time teacher, and have three kids who are quite normal. My politics are pretty middle of the road too, socially I'd be a liberal, phiscally I'd be a conservative. Try not to hate me without knowing me.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • JHinER

      Oh, and for the record, we have about 6 feet of snow in our yard and it's not news. Life went on today as it does everyday. It's the national media that creates hyper-drama everytime they get a chance.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. Doug

    I love Alaskans. Taste just like chicken.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. marti

    you guys are wierd!

    January 10, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Caleb N. Miller

    WOW! I LOVE SNOW! I'M FROM HANOVER, PENNSYLVANIA. COULD YOU FOLKS UP THERE BLOW A LITTLE WINTER TO THE MID-ATLANTIC? HEE! HEE!

    SERIOUSLY, I HOPE THE RESIDENTS ARE ABLE TO COPE. THAT'S AN INCREDIBLY LARGE AMOUNT OF SNOW TO HAVE ON THE GROUND.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    Really? 22 inches is headline news in Alaska? You've gotta be kidding me... we got 30+ inches like 4 weeks in a row in CT last year. You'd think Alaskans would be made of tougher stuff.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Your mom got 12 inches last night

      HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      January 10, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Therealdeal

      Yeah – and it took you 3 times to deliver all 12 now didn't it?!

      January 10, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      umm..it says 18 feet..

      January 11, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. tnana

    18 FEET of snow in a month....I'd say that's worth calling an emergency. What surprised me was the 0 in St Paul Island, they must be completely iced in. Sure it's Alaska but when you are surrounded by the ocean you tend to stay warmer, say ocean temp. So I guess Climate change is still a myth perpetuated by the liberal, socialist, left wing, nut case branch of the media......yeah

    January 10, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Snow Man

    LOL 2 Therealdeal!

    January 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Snow Man

    LOL @ Therealdeal!!

    January 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ferari lover

    i AM NOT FEAR OF SNOW.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Teresa

    What is wrong with Alaskans? I happen to be an Alaskan and I would not have it any other way. 12 inches of snow is nothing but if you read the article correctly, its way more than that, try triple. Alaskans are tough but there is only so much a human can take. Unless you have actually lived here for more than 5 years, you know nothing about Alaska and Alaskans. Got to love how some people will judge and assume things.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Teresa

    Correction on my above post. 12 feet of snow is nothing. The news report is correct. 18 feet or more has fallen and it is not the light snow either. It has also been raining there too so it is all hardpacked. I live in Wasilla and we have not had a light snow in a while. It is all hardpacked. Now we have the winds. This picture was taken after some of the snow was removed. I have friends there that are dealing with this. 18 feet of snow did fall. Also the reason the lights are on is due to generators. Just because we live up here, does not mean we do not have generators.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wangfeihong

    I used to work at a ski area and I remember sometimes walking downward through a snow tunnel to go in the lodge

    January 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wangfeihong

    By the way Fantastic! picture I would love to be there.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WasillaJames

    HAARP

    January 11, 2012 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. BobRip

    Pay no attention to the haters. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can stay there for a winter. I liked Nortern Exposure too.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
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