Snowfall snarled Valdez traffic during first big snowstorm of the season
Cold weather was predicted before 40 inches fell during the holiday weekend
Valdez is still behind its historic snow averages for January, despite the snowstorm that began Friday and continued through Monday.
Forty inches of snow fell on the town as of early Monday morning, with additional snowfall coming down throughout the day.
According to Valdez Avalanche Center, the storm brought a total of 45 inches of snow to town, with 54 inches falling on Thompson Pass.
The snows come on the heels of the early January windstorm which saw no new snow - but with gusts exceeding 95 miles per hour - swept built up snows from rooftops and other places where "portable snow' existed, creating unusual berms around town.
Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday exacerbated problems, as snow removal was slow in coming on the city's streets and the Richardson Highway.
The new snows are also bringing an extra layer uncertainty to the safety of backcountry sports enthusiasts who may be heading off the road in the coming days.
"There is a lot of uncertainty with the snowpack," the Avalanche Center warns visitors to it website. "We had widespread weakness at the ground before the extreme wind of January 6 as evidenced by the spooky large release west of Milepost 33. The January 13th storm came in cold and built weaker low density snow under the warming slab formed on the 14th. The storm ended with strong southerly winds which moved a lot f the new snow over exposed terrain."
Steve Revis photo
The former snow measuring station behind KCHU Public Radio on Pioneer Dr. is covered in snow.
The center says possible avalanche activity was heard towards East Peak on Sunday. Avalanches were reported in Mineral Creek on Saturday.
Light snow and light winds of up to 50 miles per hour are predicted through Thursday by the National Weather Service, with temperatures as low as -5 through the weekend.
Overall, Valdez is about 60 inches - that's five feet - below average for mid-January.
In 2014, the weather service said the average winter snowfall for January 20 is 168.7 inches. In 2013, the town had 134.4 inches of snow by the end of January.
In 2015, Valdez has only received about 71 inches of snow by the end of January.