Alaska Plunges Into Deep Freeze, With Coldest Temperatures In Years

Alaska has plunged into a deep freeze, with temperatures well below zero and more than 8½ feet of snow blanketing the state. Anchorage, the state’s largest city, is well on track to break it’s all-time snow record, having received more than 100 inches of snow so far this winter. That has led to buildings collapsing and several school closures. Temperatures in the city hit -17ºF on January 31, it’s coldest weather in 15 years. Elsewhere in the state, the thermometer read as low as -40ºF. Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson signed an emergency declaration effective until February 9 and opened warming facilities for those who are homeless or don’t have reliable heating. Even winter-savvy Anchorage residents are getting fed up with the white stuff and having to shovel constantly. City officials have sent warning letters to 1,000 businesses, asking them to vacate their properties until snow is removed from their rooftops. The roofs of three commercial structures have already collapsed under loads of heavy snow. Officials say snow loads more than 30 pounds per square foot onto roofs. A home with 1,500 square feet of roof would be supporting 45,000 pounds, or the weight of about 8 full-size pickup trucks. Other signs include popping, cracking or other strange noises coming from the roof, which can indicate that it's under stress from the snow. Sticking or jammed doors and windows are also a sign that snow might be deforming the house's structure. Experts advised people to think about removing the snow, especially if there are signs of structural distress such as a sagging roof.