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

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Richardson Highway reopens but conditions remain poor

Severe storm dropped 15 inches of snow in less than two hours Wednesday


December 6, 2017


The Richardson Highway, near Valdez, is now open from mile 12-55. Travelers are advised that driving conditions are very difficult. Heavy snow, mixed with rain, is causing ice to form on the road.

The highway closed early yesterday morning, from mile 12-55, due to an avalanche at mile 39. Today, crews worked to mitigate additional avalanche hazards and remove snow and debris from the road.

According to the National Weather Service, 76 inches of snow fell over five days, 46 inches fell in the past 48 hours and another 24 inches is forecast through Friday.

For road condition updates visit 511.Alaska.Gov or call 511.


The Richardson Highway remained closed Thursday morning after severe weather and a major avalanche stopped all road travel in and out of Valdez.

Valdez police issued the first warning just before 4 a.m. Wednesday, on the Nixle alert system.

"Valdez Police Department advises you to AVOID Thompson Pass due to an Avalanche," Wednesday's alert said. "An Avalanche near MP 39 has closed Thompson Pass and will require no travel until the road can be cleared.. Valdez Police Department will update when more information is available."

ADOT officials soon confirmed the avalanche, at mile 39.

"The avalanche occurred this morning at approximately 3:30 a.m., and is an estimated 20 feet deep and 200 feet long," ADOT said in a press release issued by spokeswoman Meadow Bailey.

Road traffic to Valdez backed up in Glennallen along the Glenn Highway Wednesday, when Alaska State Troopers told the drivers of the truck that hauls mail to Valdez - and the bundle haul carrier that delivers newspapers, the Valdez Star and the Anchorage Dispatch, that it would be at least 24 hours before the Richardson Highway opened for traffic through Thompson Pass.

The Valdez Star will update readers once the Richardson Highway reopens.

ADOT advises travelers to seek updated information before traveling by road. Online, travelers can visit 511.Alaska.Gov or call 511.


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