Juneau schools to stay closed Tuesday due to hazardous winter warmup

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 3:00 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:32 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Juneau School District has announced that all schools will remain closed on Tuesday due to hazardous road and sidewalk conditions. All classes have been canceled along with all after school activities.

“There will be no distance delivery or online classes,” said Kristin Bartlett, a spokesperson for the district. More information will be posted on the district’s website.

Riverbend Elementary School in the Mendenhall Valley will remain closed through Wednesday due to a burst pipe which has caused significant flooding.

“The Juneau School District Maintenance and Custodial crews are busy repairing and cleaning the damage, but it is a big job,” Bartlett said.

She explained that impacted families will be updated on Wednesday about plans for reopening. Across Juneau, warmer weather has caused masses of snow and ice to turn into sleet and slush.

Driving has been hazardous across the city. State offices were closed in Juneau on Monday and so was the University of Alaska Southeast. There have been concerns about snow build up on roofs and advice on how to clear it.

Fred Meyer, the city’s largest supermarket, temporarily closed on Sunday night through Monday out of an “abundance of caution” with “extraordinary snow accumulation” on the roof.

“We are working diligently to remove snow from our roof, and we have consigned engineering firms to help ensure structural integrity so that we can reopen the store as soon as possible,” said Jeffery Temple, a spokesperson for Fred Meyer, Inc.

Ketchikan and Haines both closed their schools on Monday. Heavy snow accumulation in Petersburg has seen the school’s roof leak and community members volunteering to shovel it off. This winter, Southeast Alaska has been hit by heavy snowfall after heavy snowfall with relatively little melting.

“Typically, Southeast Alaska goes through this perpetual breakup where we get winter weather with the snow and the ice and then a warmup and then things get melted off, for the most part,” said Kimberly Vaughan, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Freezing rain and warmer weather is forecast for Juneau through the week. Robert Barr, Juneau’s deputy city manager, said crews are busy trying to remove snow, but the advice for residents is to stay indoors and off the roads if possible.

“We really want to get storm drains cleared, so that when we do start to see thawing and melting of snow that that water has somewhere to go,” Barr said.

In the Mendenall Valley, Scott Guenther was on top of a ladder Monday morning, using a hammer and screwdriver to chip away the ice in his gutters. He had cleared his roof of snow, but almost a foot fell over the weekend.

”It was all puffy just yesterday,” he said. “And now it’s all compacted down and it’s really heavy.”

Vaughan said 79 inches of snow has been recorded at Juneau’s airport this winter. Other communities in Southeast have seen big seasonal snow totals, including Hyder, which recorded 39 inches of snow falling over the weekend.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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