Let it Snow

Did you know, the night before the Iditarod, dump trucks bring loads of snow to downtown Anchorage and dump it on the streets? Doesn’t that seem bizarre?  Why would they do that?  It’s Alaska, isn’t there already snow?  To answer these questions: yes, there is snow.  But, just like any other place in the world, when there is snowfall plows clear the streets to ensure safe travel for vehicles.  Dog sleds need snow to travel safely.  So, they bring many, many truckloads in the night before the race.

Four dump trucks are lined up, ready to dump loads of snow.

Street crews and volunteers block the streets off at around 5 p.m.  Workers begin putting fencing up all along Fourth Avenue in Anchorage to keep spectators off the course.  Once they are all set, the dump trucks begin loading and dumping snow.  Last year, it took about 250 dump trucks of snow to spread on the streets!  That’s about 5,000 cubic yards!

After snow is dumped, other large work trucks will come through to smooth out, or grade, the snow.  These workers will work well into the night to ensure the route through Anchorage is ready for the Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod on Saturday morning.

Where does the snow come from?  Last year, the majority of the snow they hauled came from Merrill Field, a city airport.  This snow is completely gravel free to protect dogs’ paws as they begin their 1,049 mile trek across Alaska to Nome.

Can you imagine having this job?  One day you’re plowing snow and clearing the roads.  The next day you’re bringing all the snow back and dumping it on the streets!  The city workers don’t mind though.  They are honored to be a part of such an important Alaskan and worldwide event and tradition.  Plus, it’s a change in their daily routine. 

Tomorrow, March 2, it’s go time!  The Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 47 kicks off at 10 a.m. on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage.  I can already feel the spirit , anticipation, and enthusiasm in the air.  I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, and taking place in the Ceremonial Start and Official Restart are the best presents good ole’ Saint Nick could ever deliver!

See you at the start line!