Editorial: Winter is coming

  • By Peninsula Clarion Editorial
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 8:48pm
  • Opinion

Heads up: Depending on which forecast you’re looking at, there’s a chance of snow on the central Kenai Peninsula this weekend or early next week.

Despite the fact that it’s late October, this is Alaska and other parts of the state already have had a dusting of the white stuff, that first snowfall always seems to catch us by surprise. With our first chance of snow hitting on a weekend, peninsula drivers have a chance to get vehicles ready for winter driving before that first snowy commute.

In a press release Friday, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities shared four tips for safer winter driving:

— First, be sure to give yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you have the option, wait until conditions improve.

— Second, be sure to clear off all the snow and ice from the outside of your vehicle. Don’t forget mirrors, windows, lights and both windshields.

— Third, turn on your vehicle’s headlights before getting on the road. Be sure to use turn signals, too; this is especially important when visibility is poor.

— Finally, always allow more room between you and the vehicle in front of you. This gives you time to react if you encounter unexpected conditions.

The DOT also sent out a reminder of how it prioritizes efforts to clear roads of snow and ice. Priority Level 1 goes to high volume, high speed roads and trafiic safety corridors — on the central peninsula, that’s the Sterling Highway from Soldotna to Sterling. Depending on the amount of snowfall, those roads may take up to 24 hours to clear.

Priority Level 2 roads with less traffic volume — in this area, that’s other parts of the Sterling Highway as well as the Kenai Spur Highway between Soldotna and Kenai. DOT personnel may take up to 36 hours to clear those roads.

Priority Level 3 roads, which may take up to 48 hours to clear, include the Kenai Spur Highway north of Kenai, Kalifornsky Beach Road, and Funny River Road.

A detailed road maintenance priority map may be found on the DOT website at http://dot.alaska.gov/stwdmno/wintermap/index.shtml. Travel information, including road conditions, is available online at 511.alaska.gov or by dialing 5-1-1.

Many peninsula residents are excited for that first snowfall, champing at the bit to go skiing, snowmachining, just to watch the woods fill up with snow. A little preparation now will ensure that we get to those winter pastimes — and to work on Monday — safe and sound.

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