Following the city of Kodiak’s record snowfall Tuesday night, Public Works officials said the city will not finish clearing all the streets before the weather warms this weekend and early next week.
The National Weather Service recorded 22 inches of snowfall Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, with another 2 inches of snowfall Wednesday night. As of 12 p.m. on Thursday, the snow depth within city limits was 36 inches.
“We will get to them as soon as we can get out of downtown,” said Craig Walton, Public Works director, who had been working all morning moving snow at the Pillar Mountain snow dump.
Walton noted that the reason for the delay is that the priority streets downtown took around 10 hours to clear, and the plows have had to clear those streets two days in a row.
The city’s Public Works Department had 12 employees on staff at any given time Wednesday and Thursday, working 14 to 16 hour shifts. Employees began working at 3 a.m. Thursday until 7 p.m.
Because Public Works was focusing on the city’s main roads, the police were busy dealing with stranded drivers on side streets Thursday.
“There is too much snow right now,” said Lt. Francis de la Fuente, a police spokesperson.
Many residents are worried about the warm weather and rain in the forecast that may turn the city’s unplowed streets into sheets of ice.
Eric Wood from Midtown Auto Repair Services said he saw three dead cars on Rezanof Drive on Wednesday and one car stranded on Mill Bay Road.
Others at the auto shop mentioned their concern about potential flooding when the snow begins to melt Sunday and Monday. In addition, if the downtown street gutters freeze, flooding could occur where Lower Mill Bay Road meets Rezanof Drive, he said.
When the streets are icy, Alaska State Trooper Derek Beaver urges people to drive slowly and have a vehicle equipped with winter tires or four-wheel drive. He also advises residents to not use their cars if they are worried the car will not be able to drive through the snow.
If residents have any doubt about their car, “don’t use it. It’s not worth getting in an accident,” Beaver said.
Beaver also advises drivers to use their brakes as little as possible on icy streets.
“Slow down before the stop without using your brakes. The second you lock your brakes you will start sliding out of control,” he said.
The National Weather Service forecasts low temperatures of 10 degrees and above Friday night with the weather warming up to 35 degrees Sunday and up to 40 degrees on Monday with rain and a chance of snow showers from Monday to Tuesday night. Lows are expected to be 25 to 30 degrees Tuesday night.