The Alaska Department of Transportation said crews will be using more artillery Friday to reduce avalanche hazards along the Seward Highway.
This comes after sections of the Sterling and Seward highways were closed for hours because of an avalanche early Thursday morning.
Officials said the avalanche covered the roadway at mile marker 37. Drivers listened down the highway as aU.S. Armyhowitzer cleared snow that didn't come down during the avalanche. This latest storm brought quite a bit of snow along the Seward, and DOT said crews are expecting more avalanche activity in the next couple of days.
“It brought warmer, denser snow on top of a lot of really cold, dry snow, so the old storm snow didn't react well with the new load of snow on top of it,” said Matt Murphy, an avalanche forecaster with the Alaska Department of Transportation. “So we're seeing some avalanches region-wide.”
While officials said this was a natural avalanche, out in Alaska's back country, the Chugach National Forest is concerned with human triggered ones.
“Today was not one of those days I would recommend for people getting out to the backcountry,” said Kevin Wright, the director of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.
He said based on the intensity of the storm, the snowfall and wind, avalanche stability is a problem.
“I think the next few days, we need to approach the backcountry with quite a bit of respect and caution,” said Wright. “If we're just patient, it will get better over time and we'll be able to get back out there.”
To find out current backcountry conditions, go to http://www.cnfaic.org/advisories/current.php.
For road conditions, go to http://511.alaska.gov/alaska511/mappingcomponent.