Drainage slows on highway lake formed by avalanche - FOX 35 News Orlando

Drainage slows on highway lake formed by avalanche

Posted: Updated:
A photo released Wednesday Jan. 29, 2014, by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities and made on Jan. 25, 2014, shows road crews beginning the job of clearing the closed Richardson Highway, near Valdez, Alaska.(AP Photo/Alaska DOT&PF) A photo released Wednesday Jan. 29, 2014, by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities and made on Jan. 25, 2014, shows road crews beginning the job of clearing the closed Richardson Highway, near Valdez, Alaska.(AP Photo/Alaska DOT&PF)

By DAN JOLING

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Conditions were too unstable Wednesday to clear the only road into the city at the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which remains cut off by land from the rest of the state for a fifth day because of avalanches.

Drainage has slowed from a lake formed by one of the slides, and the water is too deep for heavy equipment to pass, the Alaska Department of Transportation said.

Avalanches Friday dumped hundreds of tons of snow onto the Richardson Highway, the only road access into Valdez. The city remained accessible only by air and sea, and its 4,100 residents were taking the inconvenience in stride, according to Valdez's clerk.

One of two major avalanches put at least 40 feet of snow onto the road in Keystone Canyon, a 300-foot-wide mountain opening that begins 12 miles from the city.

The avalanche also dammed the Lowe River and created a 2,500-foot-long lake with depths of at least 5 feet.

The trans-Alaska pipeline is buried parallel to the highway and was not affected by avalanches.

The lake's water was draining Tuesday at a rate of 5 inches per hour under the avalanche and through an abandoned rail tunnel, said Transportation Department spokeswoman Hannah Blankenship. By Wednesday, the lake had receded to a length of 1,500 feet and water was no longer draining through the tunnel.

"The water is now draining at a rate of 3 inches per hour," Blankenship said.

The water remained too deep for heavy equipment to reach the avalanche from the upstream side. Crews have not removed snow from the downstream side because officials fear collapsing the snow dam and triggering a dangerous surge of water.

Transportation officials continue to monitor the lake level as water saturates the snow.

"The snow is still wet and very heavy, and it's not safe for us to move with heavy equipment," she said.

Transportation officials used explosives fired from a 105 mm howitzer Wednesday to trigger controlled avalanches at Mile 39, the site of the second major avalanche blocking the road.

Shortly after 4 p.m., crews using heavy equipment had cleared the north end of the closed road and announced 24 more miles of highway was open, from Miles 19 to 42.

That allowed people living in a subdivision at Mile 19 to drive north if they wanted, Blankenship said.

Meanwhile, the Valdez Star reported that a couple arrested Saturday for walking through an avalanche blasting area were trying to get medical care in Valdez for their cat.

Kristina Clark and Donney Carlson, driving south on the highway, found their way blocked and walked more than a mile over two avalanches to get 5-year-old Ninja to a veterinarian for treatment of an infection. Alaska State Troopers said they ignored orders to stay out of the avalanche zones and blasting had to be delayed.

Clark, of nearby Copper Center, and Carlson were picked up by a helicopter and arrested when they landed in Valdez. They were released on bail Sunday.

Dr. Kelly Hawkins treated their pet. The veterinarian said the cat would not have lasted much longer without treatment.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Dead cats found hanging from trees in Yonkers

    Dead cats found hanging from trees in Yonkers

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:03 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:03:00 GMT
    SPCA of Westchester photoSPCA of Westchester photo
    Police are investigating the discovery of at least two dozen dead cats found inside plastic bags hanging from trees in Yonkers Thursday, according to the SPCA of Westchester. Some of the cats were badly decomposed but others appeared more recently killed.
    Police are investigating the discovery of at least two dozen dead cats found inside plastic bags hanging from trees in Yonkers Thursday, according to the SPCA of Westchester. Some of the cats were badly decomposed but others appeared more recently killed.
  • Some residents return after NJ brush fires force evacuations

    Some residents return after NJ brush fires force evacuations

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:42:55 GMT
    A school and many homes in Ocean County, N.J., were evacuated on Thursday afternoon because of several brush fires that were fanned by winds. Some residents returned a few hours later. The largest fires burned about 300 acres around Berkeley Township. Firefighters had about 30 percent contained late Thursday night.
    A school and many homes in Ocean County, N.J., were evacuated on Thursday afternoon because of several brush fires that were fanned by winds. Some residents returned a few hours later. The largest fires burned about 300 acres around Berkeley Township. Firefighters had about 30 percent contained late Thursday night.
  • 'Here Lies Love'

    'Here Lies Love'

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:33 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:33:22 GMT
    "Here Lies Love" tells the rise and fall of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos. History meets disco literally as the story is told in a nightclub.Ruthie Ann Miles plays Marcos. Miles admits a big challenge is bringing to life a woman with views vastly different from her own and giving that to show-goers. "As an actor you believe in yourself," Miles says. "You need to be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter so that the audience can come on a journey with you."
    "Here Lies Love" tells the rise and fall of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos. History meets disco literally as the story is told in a nightclub.Ruthie Ann Miles plays Marcos. Miles admits a big challenge is bringing to life a woman with views vastly different from her own and giving that to show-goers. "As an actor you believe in yourself," Miles says. "You need to be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter so that the audience can come on a journey with you."
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices