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Posted at 12:37 PM ET, 01/09/2012

Five feet of snow cripples southeast Alaska towns


In this Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 photo provided by the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, a house is buried in snow in the fishing town of Cordova, Alaska. Residents have turned to the state to help them dig out of massive snow levels that have collapsed roofs, triggered avalanches and even covered doors, trapping some people in their homes. (Erv Petty - AP)

Whereas the lower 48 states is in a virtual snow drought, south central and southeast Alaska have been crushed by an unrelenting series of winter storms this winter.

Anchorage is off to its snowiest winter on record with more than 80 inches so far. To its southeast, the snow depth around Prince William Sound reached nearly 60 inches in spots late last week, before rain packed it down some over the weekend.

In Cordova, the Associated Press reports the Alaska National Guard was called in to help deal with the paralyzing snow amounts. The snow has “collapsed roofs, triggered avalanches and even covered doors, trapping some people in their homes,” the AP said.


In this Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 photo provided by the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, a man stands on a house buried in snow in the fishing town of Cordova, Alaska. (Kim Weibl - AP)

In the nearby town of Valdez, 241 inches of snow has fallen this season as of late last week (an entire season’s average is 320 inches) according to the Alaska Dispatch. But it has a ways to go to reach its astounding seasonal snowfall record of 561 inches.

After relative calm today, a new storm is forecast to bring 4 to 10 inches to Cordova and another one to two feet in Valdez Monday night through Tuesday night. Winds from 30-45 mph may produce drifts of one to three feet prompting blizzard watches .


Satellite image of storm which brought several feet of snow to south central and southeast Alaska late last week (NOAA)
The snowy pattern to date has arisen from a persistent storm track through the Gulf of Alaska, bringing an onslaught of snow events to the coastal part of the state and record-shattering cold in the interior.

This pattern, known as the +EPO (characterized by low pressure over Alaska, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Strait) has actually helped keep Arctic cold out of the lower 48. But this pattern is forecast to gradually break down over the next week, potentially allowing the cold air to head southeast while perhaps giving Alaska a well-deserved break from the cold and storminess....

By  |  12:37 PM ET, 01/09/2012

Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather

 
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