Inches of snow arrived in Kenai and Soldotna overnight in a storm that caused power outages and closed schools and businesses on Thursday.
At 5 a.m., the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District had already announced full school closures in Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Cooper Landing and Hope. Only 10 minutes later, a second announcement by the district added Seward schools to the list. Kenai Peninsula College closed its Kenai River Campus and canceled events at 6 a.m.
Homer Electric Association wrote on Facebook around 8:30 a.m. that around 6,000 members were without power. As of 7 p.m. on Thursday, the service’s outage map still described 4,000 without power. Some residents experienced outages that lasted more than 12 hours.
“The heavy snow loads, challenging weather & road conditions have made the outage restoration process very slow going for the crews,” the service wrote at 5 p.m. “Our dedicated crews are out there working tirelessly to restore power as quickly and safely as possible… Members should prepare to be out of power for several more hours, perhaps through the night and into tomorrow.”
Roads in Kenai and Soldotna were still icy, and plows could still be seen clearing roads, parking lots and driveways around 7 p.m.
While central peninsula residents woke up to inches of snow and slippery roads, precipitation totals failed to rival the multiple feet of snow that hit parts of the Seward and Sterling Highway. Up to 3 feet of snow was reported by the National Weather Service on the Seward Highway, and parts of the highway were described by Alaska State Troopers as “impassable.” The Seward Highway was closed entirely near Moose Pass for part of the night.
Kenai Aviation announced additional flights running all through the night on Thursday to respond to the increased demand for travelers looking to reach Anchorage.
“Winter driving conditions exist on the entire Kenai Peninsula and extreme caution should be taken preferably for essential travel only,” troopers wrote in a Department of Public Safety Advisory.
The National Weather Service forecast suggests more snow in Kenai and Soldotna on Friday, then a clearing this weekend and a sunny Sunday. Snow is “likely” to return Monday.
For updated forecast information and weather advisories, visit weather.gov/afc.