Massive Snowfall Causing Havoc For Alaskan Cities
January 11, 2012

Massive Snowfall Causing Havoc For Alaskan Cities

The Alaskan fishing town of Cordova, already virtually buried under more than 15 feet of snow this winter, received several more inches Tuesday as members of the National Guard had arrived to help residents clear roads and rooftops in danger of collapsing under the weight of the precipitation.

Reports of the accumulated snowfall in the village, home to some 2,000 residents, vary. On Monday, Rachel D'Oro and Mary Pemberton of the Associated Press (AP) said that at least 10 feet of snow had fallen there over the past few weeks, and that Cordova had seen 15 feet or more over the winter.

By Wednesday, BBC News reports upped that figure considerably, to 18 feet worth of snow since November. D'Oro and Pemberton said that the massive snowfall has resulted in avalanches, caused the roofs of buildings to collapse, and even trapping some people in their own homes.

"Dozens of National Guard soldiers are helping dig out drifts in order to keep municipal buildings, including the hospital, open and make sure residents can leave their homes," said in a January 11 article. "Earlier heavy falls of snow were followed over the weekend by rain that weighed down the snow, creating dangerous conditions."

In an interview with the AP, city spokesman Allen Marquette called it "relentless."

CBS News, who has a correspondent on the ground in Cordova, reported Wednesday morning that the town was having trouble keeping supplied with shoves, and that the Coast Guard was helping to fix snowplows and keep them operational.

They added that the snow was letting up, but that more rain was on the way, leading to fears that the snow would become even heavier -- making it harder to remove and more of a threat to cause serious structural damage.

Cordova isn't the only Alaskan community suffering due to winter precipitation, however. According to AP and BBC News reports, the town of Nome, located nearly 700 miles northwest of Cordova, is awaiting a delivery of fuel by a Russian tanker that has been blocked by ice.

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker is currently attempting to cut a path through the Bering Sea, but has been hampered by the thickness of the ice and other obstacles. As a result, the people of Nome could soon find themselves having to deal with a fuel shortage, despite the fact that a ship carrying 1.3 million gallons was less than 100 miles away as of Wednesday morning.

"The dynamics of things make it a pretty intense transit," Cmdr. Greg Tlapa, the executive officer of the Healy, the icebreaker leading the Russian tanker ship through the ice, told the AP by satellite phone Monday afternoon. While there is no timetable for their arrival in Nome, Tlapa said, "It's slow and steady, but we're making good progress."


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