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Accidents And Power Outages After Heavy Snow

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Photo by Quinton Chandler/KBBI
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The Southern Kenai Peninsula saw a surprising amount of snow over the weekend along with rain showers. The inclement weather caused a number of traffic accidents and power outages.

Many southern peninsula residents were clearly disappointed by poor snowfalls in both 2014 and 2015. The trend, that seems to be continuing into this year, was interrupted with a shock of heavy snow during the weekend. The unexpected precipitation sent a wave of excitement through the area, but the rare winter distraction also caused a few problems.

On Sunday, the Homer Police Department saw a sharp rise in car accidents and warned area residents not to drive if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. 

“We responded to 10 accidents and one semi-trailer sideways on the Sterling Highway near mile-170. I tried to keep the officers on the road all day looking for people in distress,” said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl.

Robl says most of the accidents saw cars slide off the road into ditches. Three of the crashes were more involved, but there was only one injury. 

“One person slid into a gate and damaged the gate and his vehicle. Another person slid into a roadway on the bypass. Then another person rolled into the ditch, with [a] pretty good degree of force, on Kachemak Way. That man had to be transported to the hospital [he was] complaining of back and shoulder pain,” said Robl.

Chief Robl says most of the roads have been plowed and are in better shape than they were on Sunday. He’s no longer asking residents not to drive, but says everyone should still be extremely careful.

As of Monday morning the department had not responded to any new accidents.

According to the National Weather Service Homer averaged 13.8 inches of snow per month between September 2015 and January 2016. Nearly 31 inches of that fell in December. This weekend residents reported snow depths ranging from 15 inches south of Ninilchik to over 36 inches on Diamond Ridge.

There were also a handful of power outages on the southern peninsula Sunday. Joe Gallagher with Homer Electric Association says the electrical grid didn’t see a lot of damage.

“We had a couple in the Anchor Point area. And we also responded to an outage on Skyline Drive in Homer as well as a smaller one that just affected about five members in the Bayview Avenue area of Homer,” said Gallagher.

The Old Ninilchik Village area saw a few outages too. Gallagher says the outages started around 11 am and were all fixed by the late afternoon.

Further North on the Central Peninsula HEA saw about 230 outages, mostly in the Mackey Lake area and power was back on by Sunday evening.

Gallagher warns downed power lines can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all times.

The National Weather Service predicts the snow will give way to rain this week  and temperatures are expected to rise in between the 30’s and low 40’s, bringing a chance for flooding.

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