Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


By CVN Staff 

First snow sends rigs off roads


November 10, 2011

At least eight drivers went off the road Friday and others lost control as the first measurable snowfall of the season coincided with a dramatic drop in temperatures.

Some drivers were fuming that Haines Borough sand trucks weren’t dispatched until Saturday, but plow drivers said they adhered to the municipality’s policy.

Six-year resident Michelle Diggins’ Chevy Suburban was in four-wheel-drive when she fish-tailed off Third Avenue hill near Major Road around 5:30 p.m. "I was going as slowly as I possibly could, but it just let loose," she said.

There was already one pickup truck in the ditch there when she went in. At 9:30 p.m. Friday there were also two trucks in the ditch on Mud Bay Road behind the Halsingland Hotel, after apparently losing traction when attempting to turn right at the top of the hill.

Other motorists reported sliding into lanes of traffic at the harbor parking lot, Mud Bay Road and the intersection of Piedad Road and Haines Highway. Several were unable to make it up Young Road and turned around mid-way.

Diggins attributed her slide to the fact she hadn’t gotten studded tires on her rig, but some questioned why the borough didn’t sand roads until Saturday.

"We never sand when it’s snowing because the snow just covers it up," said plow driver Ralph Borders. "We sanded as soon as the snow stopped Saturday morning."

Borders said drivers need to slow down in the snow, turn on their headlights and refrain from using their cell phones.

Police chief Gary Lowe confirmed the department heard some complaints about the conditions of roads.

"The first snow of the year is always an extra bad one. People forget they need to slow down for conditions. Plus, when the road is warmer and the snow hits it, it tends to get icier (than later in the winter)," Lowe said.

Temperatures had been mild until last week, when the daily low temperature dropped from 37 F. Tuesday to 22 F. Thursday.