Another record-setting year for snowfall

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 19:00
Parts of Eagle River get nine inches
Snow falls in downtown Eagle River on Saturday, May 18. According to meterologists, the winter of 2012-13 had the longest duration between snowfalls — 232 days — on record for the Anchorage area.

For the second year in a row, the Anchorage area set a new snowfall record.

This year it wasn’t the amount of fluffy stuff that went down in the history books — last year Anchorage had more than 11 feet — but the days between the first and last snowfall.

It has been 232 days between the first sign of snow Sept. 29, 2012, and the most recent storm on Saturday, May 18, according to Chris Burling, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

“We’ve now set the record … for the longest snow season,” he said Saturday.

The previous record of 230 days was set in 1981-82, Burling said.

The storm that started Friday and carried into Saturday dumped four to six inches throughout most of Eagle River, Burling said, and the Weather Service had one report of nine inches on Hiland Road.

The late-season snowfall set daily records for May 17 and May 18, Burling said.

It also postponed nearly all Anchorage School District sports scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Baseball and softball games were postponed both days, and four soccer games were postponed Saturday, while another three were moved to The Dome.

The sight of snow this far into May is uncommon, Burling said.

“It’s definitely fairly unusual to have snowfall this late in the season,” he said.

By Monday, most of the new snow at lower elevations had vanished. Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the 50s or 60s are expected this weekend, Burling said.

The heavy snowfall in the mountains around Eagle River was a big hit with skiers, who packed the parking lot of the South Fork trail near the top of Hiland Road for a bluebird day on a sunny Sunday, May 19.

Skier Keith Sanfacon of Anchorage conditions were great for skiing — especially after doing a bit of climbing.

“At higher elevations it’s wintry and powdery, but down here it gets a little tough,” he said after completing a run with a group of friends.

Sanfacon said he skies the Eagle River Valley about 40 times a year and sometimes finds pockets of snow into the summer. He said the backcountry hike-in ski destination is perfect for people who want a quick late-season getaway.

“You can do it once after work or you can do it all day,” he said.

Eagle River’s Barry Donaldson said he was happy to see the freak spring snowstorm dump several inches of fresh powder.

“With the sun and the snow, it’s hard to beat this,” he said.

Living in Eagle River makes Hiland Road an ideal location for stretching the winter season without having to fly to exotic locations.

“It’s right here, 15 minutes from home,” Donaldson said.

As for the record snowfall?

“Crazy winter, man.”

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