Monday marked the first day of Ketchikan’s first big snowstorm this winter.
Some city streets – even some of the primary corridors – remained snow-covered and slippery Tuesday morning, but City of Ketchikan Public Works Director Clif Allen said crews are pacing themselves so they don’t run out of steam. Because more snow is on the way.
“So while it seems like we’re not keeping up, in fact I’m fairly pleased with how we’re keeping up out there,” he said. “Salt is an important application, and sand. (We’re) just trying to stay ahead of this. We know there’s more coming. We’ll be out there doing everything we can, but that said, I really want to caution drivers to take some extra time, slow down, use your best winter driving skills out there.”
Allen said that Tongass Avenue is part of the state highway, so it’s maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation. The primary corridors that the city crews focus on include Third Avenue, Jefferson and Carlanna, and downtown.
“Farther down the list, we have all of the dead-ends and of course parking lots,” he said. “Beyond that, we occasionally get to our stairways. Typically, the rain takes care of that before we ever get to them.”
In recent years, the city has acquired some new snow-removal equipment. Allen said that one of those new items has been used to clear the sidewalk on the Third Avenue Bypass.
“There’s a piece of equipment we’re using up there to plow that, and you’ll also see that at work on the hill leading up to the landfill,” he said. “What we haven’t had a chance to use is the snowblower attachment that goes with that. We just haven’t had amount of snowfall to make use of that thing yet. I don’t want to say I hope to, but we’re ready if need be.”
There have been some accidents because of road conditions. One on Monday afternoon involved a school bus and an SUV-style vehicle on Forest Park just south of city limits.
Alaska State Troopers report that the bus driver was headed uphill on a sharp curve near Willow Circle, and the SUV was going downhill at the same time. Both vehicles slid on the snowy road and sideswiped each other at low speed. The SUV slid off the road and hit a stump in the ditch. There were no injuries, though, to either of the drivers, or to the five students riding inside the bus.
Drivers should continue to take care, as a winter snow advisory remains in effect until 5 a.m. Wednesday for Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan and Metlakatla. A total accumulation of up to nine inches is expected through Wednesday, and snow remains part of the forecast for the next couple of days.
Warmer temperatures and rain are expected by the end of the week.