National Guardsman helped Alaska residents dig out on Monday, Jan. 10, 2012, after a series of wicked snow storms left parts of a small fishing town buried in 18 feet of snow. Another storm approaches on Tuesday, likely to add more precipitation in what locals are calling a snowicane.
Residents of the Prince William Sound of Cordova received assistance Monday following weeks of storms that dumped feet of snow onto the town, reports Reuters.
More than 50 Guardsmen shoveled snow of roofs and heavy equipment was brought in Sunday night to clear away the snow, state officials said. Avalanche experts were also on hand after numerous slides occurred.
Collapsed roofs and avalanches are two of the biggest safety hazards. Three roofs collapsed at three commercial buildings thus far. Other dangers include clearing snow from heating systems in order to prevent a build-up of carbon-monoxide.
The snowbound town of just 2,200 residents was declared a disaster zone last week. State assistance immediately followed. In Cordova, they've just been at this for two, three solid weeks of hitting one storm after another, said Jeremy Zidek, an Anchorage-based spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. They're worn out. They don't have a lot of places to store snow.
According to the Cordova Electric Cooperative, 39 inches of snow fell in Nov., 82 inches fell in Dec. and another 56 inches fell in the first eight days of Jan. On Friday alone a storm dumped almost 20 inches of snow in the town of Valdez.
One woman told theThe Cordova Times that she began sobbing uncontrollably when she saw more snow falling last week.
Though residents are used to precipitation fluctuations, since the town is at the northern edge of the Pacific Northwest's temperate rain forest, this immense snowfall is unusual. Meteorologist Don Moore said Cordova typically gets 100 inches of snow per year.
Our pattern is mostly freeze-thaw-snow-rain, back and forth, said Allen Marquette, Cordova city spokesman. I've talked to some old-timers. Everybody's telling me that they don't remember this much snow this early.
Although residents are bogged down, skiers are quite happy, said Marquette. The local ski area at Mount Eyak has put the single chairlift out of service, but skiers expect to benefit from the snowfall soon. It should make for incredible spring skiing in the high country, he said.