More snow, traffic delays expected for Southcentral

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. An avalanche shut down traffic on both sides Monday afternoon. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. An avalanche shut down traffic on both sides Monday afternoon. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)

Motorists traveling on some sections of the Seward Highway should expect intermittent traffic delays of up to 45 minutes Wednesday, as state maintenance crews conduct avalanche hazard condition work. Delays are expected near Mileposts 44 and 37, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said in a Monday update on Facebook.

The department first shared Monday that Hatcher Pass would close at around 10 p.m. Monday due to “increasing avalanche danger,” at Milepost 14 near the Gold Mint parking lot. Avalanche specialists are expected to reassess the risk Wednesday.

The department later announced additional traffic delays for Wednesday on the Seward Highway to allow for avalanche hazard reduction work. Motorists should expect intermittent delays near Mileposts 44 and 37, at Summit Lake and the Wye Junction, the department said. Delays of up to 45 minutes should be expected between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The announcements came as the National Weather Service Anchorage bureau issued a special weather statement for numerous communities in Southcentral early Monday, including the Kenai, Soldotna, Homer, Cooper Landing and the western Kenai Peninsula.

The special weather statement forecast between 3 and 6 inches of snow expected through Monday night, as well as a “stronger storm system” expected to move in after midnight Tuesday and through Wednesday. Monday snowfall was expected to end by midnight in Homer.

Motorists who encounter a naturally triggered avalanche on a highway are discouraged from trying to drive through the avalanche, regardless of size. Rather, DOT&PF advises motorists to drive away from the avalanche area immediately and to not step outside of their vehicles in avalanche areas.

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 reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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