February 25, 2024
Juneau digs out from massive winter storm

Downtown Juneau on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

A winter storm dumped nearly 30 inches of snow over the holiday weekend in Juneau. On Tuesday morning, residents and city officials were just beginning to dig out. 

For some, the aftermath meant spending Tuesday morning shoveling their driveways, or figuring out what to do with their kids on their snow day.

Jerry Eldemar makes heart-shaped snow sculptures in downtown Juneau on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Others, like Robert Jared Lewis, spent the morning outside, waiting for the downtown library to open. He said he’d been waiting since about 7 a.m. after spending the night at the city’s warming shelter.

“For two months I just slept outside because I didn’t want to go over there to the warming shelter,” he said. “But it just started getting too cold.”

Robert Jared Lewis stands outside near the downtown Capital Transit center on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Lena Gilbertson was walking her dog, Diya, along the seawalk on a thin path dug through the deep snow. Both wore coats against the wind from the channel. Gilberston says the storm was much larger than she expected. 

“I don’t remember one like this in quite a while,” she said. “I’m on day two of work being canceled.”

Diya, a 1-year-old Dalmatian, wears a coat outside while on a walk with her owner, Lena Gilbertson, downtown on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

A scattering of people were walking downtown Tuesday morning surrounded by the high banks of snow piled along the streets. Many were walking to the Alaska State Capital. Tuesday marked the start of the legislative session. Juneau Sen. Jesse Kiehl said he spent his weekend doing what most people were doing. 

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“It was a lot of shoveling — a lot of shoveling,” he said. “ I shoveled off my walks, the neighbors, opened up the alley. You know, push people’s cars up hills and around corners when they got stuck downtown – it happens.”

A bobcat plows snow downtown on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Down at the harbor, three boats had sunk completely under the weight of the snow. Harbormaster Matt Creswell said three more were saved just in time. No pollution has been detected so far. 

“In my time in Juneau this is the worst I’ve seen it,” he said. 

A boat that sunk at Aurora Harbor sits under frozen water on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Creswell said the Douglas harbor was having problems too, and Docks and Harbors staff was working overtime to make sure no more vessels sink.

“We are expending resources that could be used right now to clear parking lots and docks,” he said. “We’re expanding those resources for boats that could have not sunk if people would have shoveled them off in time.”

Capital Transit will run winter route detours until midnight Tuesday, according to its website. There is no service up Cordova Street to Cedar Park on Douglas Island, and on Franklin or 4th Street in Downtown Juneau. Normal service will resume Wednesday. 

School will also resume on Wednesday, according to the Juneau School District. Buses will use snow routes in Douglas, downtown Juneau and Lena Loop. There will be no service to Thane.