How much snow do you get?

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Photos, Travel, Wrangell-St. Elias 2 Comments

snowy mountains

How much snow do you get is another frequent question from visitors to Alaska.  Growing up in the interior, we never saw much snow, maybe 3 to 5 feet.  On the coast here in Seward we can get a lot of snow, and just a few miles out the road they usually get much more.  About 10 years ago we set a record here in town with 18 feet! 

Janine and I love snow and have always said the more the better, but even we got tired of shoveling that winter.  We had one particularly stormy period that kept the Seward Highway closed for an entire week.  The Seward Highway is the only road link between Seward and the other Kenai Peninsula towns and Anchorage.  The weather kept boats and planes at bay as well.  It didn’t really effect many people in town except for those that were forced to miss their long anticipated winter trip to Hawaii – and there were a few.

Now 18 feet of snow would be considered a low year for a town like Valdez.  Seeing Valdez in the winter is an interesting site – the homes disappear, you feel like a mouse in a maze.  The only part of any homes you see is what’s been exposed by the plowed drive-ways.  The rest is buried.  Forget looking out the windows! 

Thompson Pass and the mountains above Valdez is one of the snowiest places on earth.  Thompson Pass has received over 81 feet of snow in a single winter, almost 25 feet in a single month, and 5 feet in one day!  During my days in high school sports I remember a number of unplanned nights in Valdez because we were weathered in by snow storms.  Even though Valdez is a 100 miles away from where I grew up in Glennallen, it was the nearest high school.

In the spring I used to enjoy taking my cross-country skies to Thompson Pass where I would explore some of the valleys (not the mountains).  The hardest part of skiing there was always getting from the road onto the snow pack because there almost always was a steep snow berm at least 30 feet high!  Today those mountains are world famous for their extreme skiing, back then there was never a sole to be seen.

Comments 2

  1. Valdez was my favorite town in Alaska — in June anyway. As we were driving in from the north we stopped at a viewpoint on the left to take a photo. There was a high waterfall across the river and some rafts were pulling up so rafters could walk under the falls — well, up to it maybe. There was a rainbow at the bottom of the falls and it looked like the rafters were looking for the pot of gold. I suspect that happens all the time. My camera wasn’t great and I’m a point and shooter so the images are too dark, but it was a fabulous sight!

    Your narration reminded me of a friend who lived in Anchorage for several years. He had to shovel the snow off the roof periodically and one time the ladder fell down. He had to sit perched on the roof until his wife came home from work and put the ladder back up so he could get down again! Bet that happens a lot too.

  2. Post

    The road to Valdez is beautiful! I know exactly what waterfall you are talking about in Keystone Canyon – it is dramatic.


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