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

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Winds damage windows, rattle nerves and travel plans

Weather services says this week will be breezy until Thursday night


Valdez Star photo

High winds and low temperatures have kept the waterfalls of Keystone Canyon frozen this season - and the National Weather Service says cold, dry, and breezy conditions will continue through Wednesday night - and beyond

High winds in Valdez the past two weeks did more than fray nerves and bring on the wind chill.

Reports of windows in homes and cars shattering due to flying debris began last week as winds that exceeded 80 miles per hour pounded the town - and its people.

The city's public information office issued numerous weather warnings the last two weeks, sometimes cancelling garbage service, sometimes asking people to delay travel on the city's streets and the Richardson Highway if possible.

While people dodged the occasional moving dumpster or scrambled to stop gushing winds from damaging the interiors of homes and cars with damaged windows - and several lamps from the new street lights missing in action - the most famous commodity in Valdez - snow - was been conspicuously absent.

That is not to say Valdez has not seen its share this year.

The Alaska Avalanche Center reported this week that the season snowfall for Valdez stands at 225 inches - 18.75 feet to be exact - and Thompson Pass has recorded 283 inches.

The high winds and low temperatures that have followed last month's rains have created hard slick ice fields and slab-like snow conditions.

While the ski season is in full swing on Thompson Pass, events in Valdez proper continue.

Next week, the Valdez Snowmachine Club will host the annual Mayor's Cup, March 18-19.

It carries a $10,000 total purse according to the group's Facebook page, and is billed as "Alaska's 200 mile adventure in pain."

The Alaska Avalanche Information Center took charge of measuring snowfall in Valdez in November 2015 after the National Weather Service closed its Valdez office.

Valdez averaged 326.3 inches of snow per year before 2014, when a snow drought hit the area, which measured just over 100 inches for the 2013 season - a record low.

Valdez averaged 326.3 inches of snow per year before last year's snow drought, which measured just over 100 inches for the season.


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