The first heavy snowfall of the season descended upon Juneau on Thursday, bringing with it the usual side effects: a mild increase in holiday spirit and cars sliding off the road.
At the airport, visibility dropped to about half a mile, National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charge Tom Ainsworth said Thursday. On nearby Egan Drive, the heavy snow created problems for drivers both in terms of their visibility and their ability to stop.
Ainsworth said that as of about 1 p.m. — near the end of the deluge — about two inches of snow had accumulated.
Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said it was a busy day for the department. As of 4 p.m., he didn’t have exact numbers for how many cars had slid off the road and how many crashes there were, but said the roads presented problems all over town. This happens at the beginning of the season every year, Campbell said, when snow and ice first start to gather on the streets.
Campbell said there’s one easy safety tip to follow when conditions get worse.
“Slowing down is by far the most important thing,” Campbell said.
He said you don’t need to drive the speed limit, but if you’re going a little slower, be sure to get in the right lane.
Juneau is well behind the normal pace of snowfall this season, but Thursday’s barrage of snow helped make up some ground. From the start of November to Dec. 13, Ainsworth said, Juneau usually gets 18.7 inches of snow. This year, including Thursday’s heavy flurries, Juneau has had only about 5 inches.
He said not to expect much more snow this weekend, with temperatures increasing into next week. There’s still a small window to get out and go sledding or have a snowball fight before rain returns this weekend, Ainsworth said.
“Friday looks like a dry day to get out and enjoy the new snow,” Ainsworth said.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.