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30 Dec, 2021 10:48

After December’s warm spell came Icemageddon

Alaska has experienced extreme weather since Christmas, with an unusually warm weekend leading to freezing rain and snowstorms
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 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.

There were also reports of limited power outages, roofs of buildings collapsing under accumulated snow, and other problems due to the freak weather.