Fairbanks, AK(Juneau) - The Richardson Highway is currently closed near Valdez from mile 12-55 due to an avalanche at mile 39.
The avalanche occurred around 3:30am this morning and is estimated to be 20 feet deep and 200 feet long.
Crews will be taking care of the snow after weather improves, the risk of another avalanche decreases, and it is safe to work. Heavy snowfall and unseasonably warm temperatures are creating prime conditions for additional avalanches.
Over the past 24 hours, a mix of heavy snow and rain has fallen in Valdez and the Copper River Basin resulting in very difficult and hazardous driving conditions on the Richardson, Edgerton, Glenn and Tok Cutoff highways. Temperatures have ranged in the high 20s to mid-30s.
All available plows and sand trucks are out working to keep roads passable.
The National Weather Service forecasts that heavy snow will taper off this afternoon, however light snow will continue overnight. The heaviest accumulation will be in Thompson Pass, with up to 45 inches. Valdez has received 12 inches of snow as of 6:30 a.m. and snow continues to fall steady across the region.
Another weather front is expected to move in from the gulf Thursday, possibly bringing heavy snow for Thompson Pass with snow and rain in Valdez.
For updated road conditions, visit 511.alaska.gov or call 511.