Avalanche Closure Lifted on Seward Highway

The Seward Highway near its intersection with the Sterling Highway on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023. (Alaska Department of Transportation)

Update: The Seward Highway reopened Sunday afternoon after an avalanche forced a closure near its intersection with the Sterling Highway, according to a 3:15 p.m. update from the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Earlier story:

An avalanche closed the Seward Highway near its intersection with the Sterling Highway on Sunday, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers issued a travel advisory at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

“An avalanche has blocked all lanes of travel on the Seward Highway between mile 36 and 40 near the Sterling Highway Y,” an online trooper dispatch said. “The highway will be closed until avalanche debris can be cleared from the roadway.”

It was unclear how long it would take to remove the debris and reopen the highway.

As of 10:15 a.m. Sunday, crews in the field did not have an estimate on how long the work would take, DOT spokesperson Danielle Tessen said.

About 400 feet of highway was covered in roughly 3 feet of snow, Tessen said.

Troopers and the state Department of Transportation warned of difficult driving conditions from blowing snow in the area and said up-to-date information on the highway closure could be found at 511.alaska.gov.

Avalanches are likely in backcountry areas in a swath covering much of the Kenai Peninsula north to Girdwood, according to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

Avalanches early Sunday also closed two sections of the Richardson Highway – in Thompson Pass, near Valdez, and north of Paxson in Interior Alaska – and crews were working to clear that debris to reopen the highway, according to the DOT.

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Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at cgrove@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Casey here

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