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It’s so cold and snowy in Alaska that fuel oil is thickening and roofs are collapsing

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Anchorage, which hit minus 17 Fahrenheit late Wednesday night, is experiencing its coldest temperatures in 15 years, said Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist with the local weather service office. The forecast called for temperatures there to remain below zero through Friday before climbing into the teens by Sunday.

In the small town of Kotzebue, 550 miles by air to the northwest, temperatures of minus 30 Fahrenheit and below caused heating fuel to thicken so much that home heating systems and stoves stopped working, the Anchorage Daily News reported. City Manager Tessa Baldwin told the newspaper that water lines have frozen across town.

That coincided with challenges that south-central Alaska’s largest utility, ENSTAR Natural Gas Co., has had with two wells at a gas storage facility that was built to address the peak winter demand. The system was “the most strained I’ve seen,” in large part due to gas delivery issues related to the well problems, company president John Sims told a news conference in Anchorage.

Anchorage resident DuShan Vujnovic, a native of Serbia who is working for the Alaska Railroad, said this winter has been “too much.”

This is Vujnovic’s fifth winter in Anchorage and it’s been the coldest. If that weren’t bad enough, last week his job took him north to Fairbanks.

“I’ve never experienced anything that cold, but here I think I’m mostly annoyed with the snow,” he said. “I drive a white car, so sometimes it’s hard to even find it in the snow after two days of not leaving the house.”

Meanwhile, parts of southeast Alaska were almost balmy by comparison, including in Ketchikan, where it was nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit and raining Thursday. Ketchikan is closer to Seattle than it is to Anchorage.

HOW ARE PEOPLE COPING?

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson last week signed an emergency declaration effective through Feb. 9 and added the warming centers, some of which are open around the clock.



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