After December’s warm spell came Icemageddon
A late December warm spell has caused chaos in Alaska, as moisture-soaked winds bombarded the US state with heavy precipitation, causing what the authorities dubbed an “Icemageddon.”
Temperatures rose to record-highs in coastal parts of Alaska last week. On Kodiak Island, they spiked to 67F (19.4C) on Sunday, setting a statewide historic record for December. On Monday, they again broke the 60F(15.5C) benchmark before starting to decrease on Tuesday.
The unusual warmth meant the air could accumulate larger than usual amounts of moisture from the Pacific before dropping it inland as rain and snow. The weather station at the Denali National Park was “literally buried” by a record pileup of snow, the Fairbanks branch of the National Weather Service tweeted.
The Denali National Park Headquarters Cooperative observer weather equipment is literally buried! They have received 74.5 inches of snow this month, making this the snowiest Dec on record. The previous record was 66.3 inches in Dec 1984. (photo courtesy of Denali NP) pic.twitter.com/zCoQUDxjZ3— NWS Fairbanks (@NWSFairbanks) December 29, 2021
The precipitation came with torrential winds and other hazards, prompting the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities to dub the situation on the roads “Icemaggedon.”
In many areas, rain poured down on sub-zero temperature roads, quickly freezing and binding with the surface. The icing was as strong as cement, it was reported, and could not be removed by either scraping or chemical melting, owing to the continued cold temperatures.
When combined with low visibility from blizzards, the drift-prone roads in many areas were deemed dangerous even for vehicles equipped for winter driving. Authorities advised residents to refrain from unnecessary travel to keep traffic to a minimum and allow highways to be cleared.
12-28-21, Kotzebue, Alaska, about 2 pm, this weather came in fast and hard, 12 d. Fah (-11 C), winds 40 mph (65 kmh), oh joy, more snow to shovel pic.twitter.com/HKxuU3PLzZ— Tundrabilly ❄☃️🇺🇸 (@tammaq13) December 29, 2021
There were also reports of limited power outages, roofs of buildings collapsing under accumulated snow, and other problems due to the freak weather.
The rain and snow in Fairbanks tried to freeze the car in the street. Tires and bumper were frozen to the ground. Dug her out last night & thankfully a neighbor stopped to help push. Strange weather in Alaska in December pic.twitter.com/mkaU6pCXFE— Jeremy M (@JeremyAK907) December 28, 2021