Josh Lingle shovels outside Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe after overnight freezing rain brought icy conditions to Kenai on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Icy conditions prompt closures across central, southern peninsula

The conditions follow several days of adverse conditions

Icy weather conditions prompted closures across the central Kenai Peninsula on Wednesday as motorists were encouraged to be cautious while traveling. The National Weather Service announced Tuesday that a wintry mix of weather was headed to Southcentral Alaska on Wednesday, with freezing rain expected in Kenai and Soldotna.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District canceled school for most schools in central and southern peninsula communities due to inclement weather and announced a two-hour delayed start for Hope and Cooper Landing schools. Other closures were announced by Veronica’s Cafe, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe Early Childhood Center preschool and Early Head Start programs, and Soldotna’s Kenai Peninsula College campus.

A community budget forum hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District that was scheduled for Wednesday night was postponed. That forum will now be held on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Kenai Central High School library and will also offer Zoom participation.

Wednesday’s conditions came days after several inches were dumped across the region, prompting increased risks of avalanches and road closures along some parts of the Seward Highway. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said in an update Wednesday that Hatcher Pass will remain closed above Milepost 11 through at least the end of the weekend due to predicted snowfall.

Josh Lingle was shoveling outside his place of work, the Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe in Kenai, on Wednesday afternoon. He said he’s seen freezing rain cause some real damage in the past.

“I’ve seen branches coming down, power lines come down,” Lingle said. “I mean, that freezing rain’s a really bad deal.”

By the time he was shoveling around 2:30 p.m., however, the warmer temperatures had melted off a lot of the ice left by Tuesday night’s rainfall.

“This warm up, it melts off and it’s not too bad,” Lingle said. “And the people, they really get it around here. I mean, they know what they’re doing.”

Temperatures had increased to 39 degrees by Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported.

The agency is predicting patchy, freezing fog and chances of snow and rain Thursday morning in Soldotna, with total snow accumulations expected to hit 4 inches. High temperatures are predicted to range from the low 30s to low 40s, while low temperatures are predicted to range from the mid-20s to low 30s.

Real-time traffic updates, including alerts about avalanche hazard reduction and closures, can be found on the DOT&PF 511 system at 511.alaska.gov.

Reach reporters Camille Botello and Ashlyn O’Hara at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com and ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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