While the rest of the West is bathing in unseasonably warm, dry weather, this has been one of the coldest, snowiest, windiest, and meanest winters on record for coastal Alaska. In the past week, huge storms dumped enough snow on Cordova to coin the term “Snowpocalypse 2012”, and trigger an official disaster proclamation requiring assistance from the National Guard and an emergency shovel delivery. The highway south of Anchorage was shut down for over 24 hrs due to avalanches, and the Nome-bound fuel tanker had to be rescued from uncommon ice floes in the Bering Sea. More than 26 feet of snow has fallen in Valdez since November. And the forecast for Anchorage was predicting another dump of 8-16” of snow on Thursday; only 2 days after getting an additional 10” on top of the previous several inches, on top of that other few inches last week, plus the other 8”, on top of the foot of snow before that.
I LOVE snow! Don’t get me wrong. But there is a point where all this glorious “White Gold” becomes as much work as it is fun. And then it becomes a hazard. I am a mountain girl born in December. Read…I got my driver’s license at 16 and immediately learned how to drive in SNOW! I love nothing more than blasting around in the fresh powder of an unplowed road in my SUV while most others are smartly staying home. I love the feel of a total snowy scene surrounding me as I head somewhere to go play in the snow!
But as I see a poor soul struggling up to their waist on a non-existent sidewalk that the plows have had to succumb to using as extra snow storage in order to keep the streets clear, I think to myself…maybe this is too much snow! And as I pull up to the snowy intersection and crane my body upward to see over the snowbank that only someone in a F350 or school bus can still get a good view of the oncoming traffic over, I think to myself…huh? Maybe this much snow is becoming unsafe.
My visit to the long-term parking lot at the airport leaves me chuckling at the scene after recently visiting the unreasonably snowless Colorado. The parking spaces look more like 5-foot tall white concrete parking “stalls” than they ever were a free-form parking lot of space. I usually deal with shoveling my own driveway, but I have had to call the plow three times in the past 2 weeks to help me out; and then he drove off the side of my driveway in all the extra soft snow piled on the side. I gave up for the first time in 5 years at keeping all the walkways clear so that I could maintain the accessibility all winter. The shoveling has become anything but fun and novel; and it is early January! The shoveling is backbreaking and I am running out of places to put the stuff! For the first time ever, I put on my ski pants and got out the sled to haul my firewood from 50 ft uphill of my house to my backdoor because my usual wood-hauling path was GONE! My dog has resorted to just sitting near her doghouse where I have been able to keep the snow clear instead of her usual forays around the yard because the snow is now over her head. My neighborhood streets have gone from 2 lanes to 1.5 lanes to only 1 lane this past week.
As I leave the 4-way stop sign I drive speedily up the steep hill that is now only 1 lane wide, hoping that yet again, there is no one else coming blindly up the other side. I don’t know where either of us would go. There is only room for one of us to be queen of this hill!
The dump trucks and front-end loaders run all night in the city trying to remove all the excess snow so that they can prepare for the next storm. The big trucks drive in convoys to the snow dump to rid our city of a material the California ski areas would pay the price of gold for right now! Yep, we have so much snow now we are putting the precious material in DUMPS! We don’t know what else to do with it but throw it away!
So, if you are in need of it, come get it! It is just sitting there in the dump for free! You could even take it out of people’s yards and off their driveways. They would probably thank you and make you cookies.
If you want some snow for yourself, come north and bring your shovel. Cordova, Anchorage, and any other coastal Alaska town would be happy to share with you! Alaska is whimpering “uncle” to the Nordic Snow God. Don’t get us wrong, we are so very thankful to have snow after the dry winter we had last year. Very, very thankful! The skiing has been epic! But we have our share and it is getting to be a lot of work to do something with all of it. Shoveling, breaking trail in the backcountry, getting out of the intersection safely…maybe we could let someone else have a turn? Just maybe we are ready to share some of our wealth. ULLR!! We don’t want you to abandon us, but maybe you could just go on vacation somewhere south for a little while?