Alaska December 22, 2018
It’s Impossible To Forget The Year Alaska Saw Its Single Largest Snowfall Ever
In most areas of Alaska, what would be record-breaking amounts of snow in other states is simply a regular Wednesday afternoon. So when a state known for extreme amounts of snow hits a record, you know it’s going to be epic! Thompson Pass, right outside Valdez, Alaska, holds many of Alaska’s state snowfall records. But one holiday storm topped them all!
Thompson Pass, Alaska sits at 2,678' of elevation. It is located just outside Valdez, Alaska.
Thompson Pass averages over 500 inches of snow a year. One memorable winter season in 1952-1953, it snowed an incredible 974.1 inches. It holds the title of the Snowiest Place in Alaska!
It held up that title during a heavy snowstorm on December 29th-December 30th, in 1955. That storm deposited 120.6" in those two days, creating a new world record!
That is an incredible ten feet of snow in less than 48 hours! In fact, over 62 of those inches happened in just the first 24 hours, gaining itself a new Alaska state record, as well.
Due to the average yearly snowfall, there is even a dedicated Department of Transportation station right at the top of the pass to help clear the snow! They stay very busy all winter long.
They work hard to keep the road through the pass plowed and ice-free throughout the year. This is so hard to do, that it was actually highlighted in Discovery Channel's television special, "Alaska, Most Extreme."
The Richardson Highway runs right through Thompson Pass. Originally a pack trail to the Klondike gold fields, the road now connects Valdez to the rest of the interior of Alaska.
It wasn't until almost 1950 that Alaska decided to keep the road open year round. One brave soul, a freight company foreman, personally plowed the entire pass by himself for an entire winter season, proving to everyone that it could be done!
Thompson Pass has a polar climate, with one of the highest snow totals in the entire world. The pass used to have a maintained weather station (located at around 2,500') that was open from 1952-1974.
During that time period, which started just a couple years before this incredible snow storm happened, it recorded some of the most intense snow accumulations ever reported on earth.
The heavy yearly snowfall and awe inspiring mountain terrain entices many extreme sport enthusiasts to Thompson Pass.
For the heli-skiing and snowboarding lovers, there is an annual event called "Tailgate Alaska," that brings in riders from all over the state to access the great backcountry skiing. They camp out in RVs and trailers on the Thompson Pass Airport, a short landing strip used by the state, and snow machine out to the backcountry runs.
While there are some amazing snowfall numbers for this area throughout the years, it would not be surprising if a storm in the future topped them all!
Other cities in Alaska, like Anchorage, have seen their personal snowfall records beaten in recent years. It would be quite the feat to see that snowfall record beaten in Thompson Pass!
Have you ever experienced a snowfall like that? What is the biggest storm you can remember?
If you’re interested in hearing more about snowfall in this area, check out this article about
The Snowiest Town In The Nation!