February 24, 2024
Avalanche warnings, closures continue as marathon storm leaves record snowfall


Storm impacts continue to linger with record snowfall Tuesday as state and city offices remained closed, the school district conducted a second day of remote learning, and Thane Road is again scheduled to be closed overnight starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday due to high avalanche risk.

Juneau shattered the one-day record for snowfall on Jan. 22 with 11 inches on Monday, topping the previous record of five inches in 1969, according to the National Weather Service Juneau. Several inches of additional snow fell Sunday when the storm began and an updated forecast Tuesday morning stated more than a foot of additional snow could accumulate before the winter storm warning ends at 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“The end of the current weather system is in sight — but it isn’t here yet,” a statement issued by NWS Juneau at about 7:20 a.m. Tuesday notes.

In a subsequent post on its Facebook page at about 1 p.m., the station declared “snow is piling up around around the Juneau area with another foot in many places over the last 24 hours.”

“In the back of Mendenhall valley, our current storm total (Sun morning to noon Tue) is an astonishing 26.4 inches,” the post states.

The original forecast by NWS Juneau called for up to 15 inches of snow and the storm ending by Monday night, but the front hovered over Juneau far longer than expected.

Juneau received a record 11 inches of snow for the date of Jan. 22 on Monday, topping the previous record of five inches in 1969, according to a Facebook post by the National Weather Service Juneau. (National Weather Service Juneau)

Juneau received a record 11 inches of snow for the date of Jan. 22 on Monday, topping the previous record of five inches in 1969, according to a Facebook post by the National Weather Service Juneau. (National Weather Service Juneau)

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Conditions after the storm warning ends are expected to remain messy, with rain occasionally mixed with snow forecast at least through next Monday as temperatures hover between the mid-30s and 40 degrees.

Avalanche risk for the Juneau area Tuesday is categorized as level four (“high”) out of five, according to the City and Borough of Juneau’s advisory website.

“With the massive volumes of snow over the last few days avalanche danger remains HIGH,” the website notes. “As temps increase today into tonight and tomorrow the likelihood of natural avalanches continues to increase. With the great volumes of snow over the last few days depending on how large of a starting zone releases these avalanches could be VERY LARGE to nearing historic.”

Several avalanches were reported Monday, following multiple previous snowslides following a large snowstorm a week ago. Tom Mattice, the city’s avalanche forecaster, wrote in Tuesday’s online report that “I don’t think we have enough snow to hit Egan Drive yet, although we are nearing volumes that could begin to endanger homes.”

A Capital Transit bus navigates a plowed city street during this week’s storm. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)A Capital Transit bus navigates a plowed city street during this week’s storm. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)

A Capital Transit bus navigates a plowed city street during this week’s storm. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)

Thane Road was closed overnight Monday due to avalanche risk and, while the road was reopened as of about 11 a.m. Tuesday, it will be closed again overnight starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to an announcement by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

“A reassessment will take place tomorrow morning, and residents will be notified to prepare for a potential multi-day closure,” the announcement states.

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Although city offices and facilities are closed, some municipal meetings scheduled during the day — including the Juneau Planning Commission, Juneau Board of Education and Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors — are conducting their meetings as scheduled via Zoom, according to an announcement at CBJ’s website. Capital Transit buses are operating on winter routes.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at [email protected] or (907) 957-2306.