DISCUSSION: When it comes down to preparing for and executing general protocols for avalanche safety, there is no substitution for remaining on the side of caution in all situations once is faced with. In particular, across the state of Alaska during the Winter season, there is often a substantially increased threat for avalanches due more frequent winter storms which deposit incredibly large amounts of snowfall. As a result of these frequent/heavy snowstorms, this allows for very deep snowfall to accumulate on various mountainsides. Thus, as snowfall continues to pile up, there is an increasing threat for various triggers which may include hikers, snowboarders, skiers, etc. to start an avalanche by moving over a critical trigger point. You can note in the video above how these particular trucks moving through parts of the Dalton Highway as a small avalanche impacted them. Attached below is a direct excerpt from the Alaskan Department of Transportation and Public Facilities on this event.
"The Dalton Highway remains closed from Mile 241-247 (Atigun Pass) due to extreme avalanche conditions. Last night, crews decided to close the avalanche gates after witnessing small avalanches. This is the first time the gates have been closed since they were installed three years ago. At approximately 7:30 p.m., four trucks who were already past the avalanche gates were struck by an avalanche.
All drivers are safe, and at this time, there are no confirmed injuries, though there are reports that one driver hit his head. Two of the trucks were able to get out of the snow with minimal assistance, and two trucks remain stuck. Additional resources are on the way to assist with removing these vehicles.
At this time, there is no estimate when the road will be cleared and reopened. Weather in this area continues to be challenging, and the current storm is forecast through tomorrow. Once the weather improves, crews will conduct avalanche mitigation and clear the road. No one will go back on the road until weather improves and conditions are safe."
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz