The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Snow last weekend was heaviest of the season

Valdez is significantly behind in its average yearly snowfall


Valdez Star photo

Valdez received its first significant snowfall last weekend, with hopes of more in the coming days – at least by winter sports lovers.

Despite last weekend's snowstorm, Valdez is lagging behind and not living up to its reputation as the snow capital of North America.

While the National Weather Service is struggling to provide online historical weather data, a look at last year's totals are telling.

In 2014, the weather service said the average winter snowfall for Valdez by January 20 is 168.7 inches. In 2013, the town had 134.4 inches of snow by the end of January.

As of Monday, Valdez has only received about 71 inches of snow this winter season.

Earlier in this winter season, the weather service said Valdez is likely to see declining snow each winter due to climate change.

Valdez Star photo

Last weekend's heavy snows blanket trees and stream banks outside of town.

Few expected this year to be so dramatic.

Despite the rather low levels of snow, DOT began avalanche control measures in Keystone Canyon last weekend.

The snow pattern, combined with cold fronts, warm fronts and rain in between, have kept the dangers of avalanches high in many parts of Alaska. Last year, Snowslide Gulch in Keystone Canyon produced a massive avalanche that not only covered the Richardson Highway, but dammed a large portion of the Lowe River.

The cold front that settled in on Valdez Monday is likely to continue through Saturday according to the weather service. Snow is also likely.

It also issued a high wind warning for Valdez Tuesday morning for Keystone Canyon and Thompson Pass.


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