On the side of the angels…. Avalanche disaster averted
.…living here in Little Elm Texas I tend not to be as aware of problems dealing with massive amounts of snow and ice as I once was on a daily basis when I lived in Alaska. I am however still quite familiar with temperatures behaving literally like a roller coaster swinging between the 30’s and mid 70’s. This same effect has been happening back in Alaska however the results there are dangerous from roads of pure ice in the cities to avalanches on Americas road to the top of the world, the Dalton Highway.
With first hand reports from conversations with my daughter who lives in Fairbanks concerning the temperature swings from spring like days of -10 to days making it feel like summer with temp’s in the +20’s, interspersed with periods of a half foot of snow or more. For her and those living in the city it equals roads that are equal to driving on pure ice, with the state police advising people to drive only when necessary because of the abundance of accidents.
This causes great concern for me worrying about her getting to work many miles from where she lives. However I then remember the two decades I lived there and realize those living there consider it just a part of getting though the winter just like when we dealt with the temperature when it drops to 50 below zero without going into panic mode. Then there are others who must deal with traveling these dangerous roads for 500 miles every time the go to work.
They are the hundreds of truckers that daily run the Haul road, (Dalton Highway), made famous in the television series “Ice road truckers”, and though the road in summer is surrounded by constantly unfolding majestic panoramas come winter it becomes a eminently dangerous and deadly road to drive on. The recent heavy snows interspersed with temperatures fluctuating above and below freezing have made conditions ideal for avalanches.
On Monday the 27th four tanker trucks traveling through Atigun pass, Alaska’s highest mountain pass were partially buried by an avalanche. The drivers however all made it out of the trucks to safety and are awaiting the reopening of the highway to complete their run to Prudhoe bay. These drivers who face the constant danger in winter of temperatures ranging to 60 below zero, ice covered roads and in this case avalanches are truly men of a different breed.
So even though I drove the Dalton many times
both in summer and fall
a tip of the hat and a prayer is warranted
to those who daily drive
that majestic and
top of the world.