Ice Makes Kodiak Commutes Treacherous

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

Icy conditions in Kodiak can make for a slippery ride home or, worse, a detour off the road.

Sergeant Cornelius Sims with the Alaska State Troopers says temperatures rose last week and then dropped, which turned all the melting snow back into ice.

“Plus then we had a dusting of snow after that. and then we had more snow, and sometimes that will hide the frozen asphalt underneath the layers of snow. So, the icing conditions lead to slipping off the roadway, motorists driving along not expecting the road to be as slick as it is.”

In other areas, the mountains block the sun or trees cast the roads in shadow, which covers the asphalt in a constant sheet of ice.

But casualties could be worse. This is Sims’ first cold season in Kodiak, and he says he’s worked in communities in Alaska with similar weather patterns.

“To be honest I’ve kinda expected a few more, and I’ve heard a couple of my guys say there’d be a few more either VIDs, vehicles in ditches, or some kind of small collisions, nothing major, because of the roadways, but we haven’t experienced as much.”

He says preventive measures like studded tires can help, as can other traction control features, but in the end it’s about the driver’s awareness and comfort behind the wheel.

“So, if you’ve driven years without that and then all of sudden you jump into a new vehicle with that, it takes some training and getting used to realizing the car is making its own – not just corrected – actions, and you don’t counter those corrected actions and kind of just make things worse for yourself, so ultimately, I would say as far as a vehicle, just being familiar with the vehicle you drive.”

Sims says residents should keep an eye on the weather and expect that a warm day may end in a frigid night, which can lead to an icy morning commute.

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