Monday, November 22, 2010

Bad Weather due to Warming

I am supposed to be in town running pre-work errands today.  I should have gotten my haircut this morning, picked up my prescription drugs from the pharmacy, bought some supplies for the kennel and filled the car with fuel.  None of that has happened, due to bad weather.

In Alaska, "bad weather" doesn't always mean the same as it does in the Lower-48.  Snow storms never cause school or workplace closures or become much more than an inconvenience.  Let a little rain fall, however, and things go to hell in a handbasket.

That is the case today.  Last night the temperature warmed, the rain started falling, and we now have a sheet of wet ice covering everything.  Most importantly, it's covering the roads. 

An update from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner just minutes ago includes the following:

"A five-car pileup is blocking the Richardson on-ramp to the Mitchell Expressway. A bus was blocking the Steese Highway at Farmers Loop just after 9 a.m.

Despite the dozens of reported collisions, neither Fairbanks police nor Alaska State Troopers said they have received any reports of serious injuries this morning.

The storm is bringing unseasonably warm weather to much of the Alaska mainland, with freezing rain advisories posted from the Kenai Peninsula to the North Slope on Monday.

Outside the city, the Department of Transportation has issued an advisory discouraging travel on the Elliott Highway and on the Dalton Highway from Mile 28-414 because of freezing rain as well as blowing and drifting now.

Travel is also not recommended on the Parks Highway between Miles 260 and 350 because of an inch of ice covering the roadway. DOT has five trucks dropping sand and salt on the roads right now, but even those vehicles are having trouble on the Parks, DOT spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

“Trucks fully loaded with chains are having difficulty going up hills,” she said. “They’re going up the hills backward.”

I made it about half-way to town this morning, and was stopped by a school bus spun out on a hill.  At that point I decided discretion was truly the better part of valor, so I turned around.  Once back at the house, which was no easy feat, I installed my tire chains on my dog truck.  With the combination of chains and studded snow tires I could probably get to work tomorrow OK, if I must.  At this point it is as likely that the company will delay crew change by a day, perhaps line wide. 

The UAF campus is closed, the schools are asking parents to pick up students early and have announced they will be closed tomorrow, and at least 5 school buses, some with kids on board, have slid off area roads.

In short, the weather today is TOO STINKIN' WARM and the roads are just freakin' UGLY!.  I think I'll brew a pot of coffee and hang out with the dogs for a while.

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