A massive avalanche has isolated the town of Valdez Alaska. The Avalanche is only half the problem and could isolate the town for weeks, or longer.

Richardson Highway outside Valdez Alaska. Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities

The Monday avalanche is about 12 miles outside the town of Valdez near Kenai and Anchorage. Valdez is mostly known as the the end of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline where billions of gallons of oil are loaded on to ships bound for who knows where but a lot of it goes by land.  Although no shortages are expected, the town of Valdez is on it's own when it comes to transportation by land and it could be for an extended period of time.

The problem is two-fold.  The avalanche covers about 30 miles of the Richardson Highway, in some places over 100 feet deep. To add to that problem, the avalanche also blocked a portion of the Lowe river which is pressing against the avalanche itself. So, crews can't move the snow off the highway otherwise a huge wall of water will rush in.

State officials say they have never seen anything of this magnitude and not sure how best to handle the situation though it is known nothing can be done until the water being blocked is somehow diverted.

In the meantime, Valdez residents are just fine.  Mail is being flown in along with necessary supplies and ferries are running carrying vehicles and passengers at will.  All is OK but driving into Valdez may take some time.

Mother Nature at her finest, or worst, depending on how you look at it.

This Jan. 24, 201 4 photo shows the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region of Valdez, Alaska, causing flooding. Alaska highway officials say the only highway into the city of 4,100 people will be closed until further notice, for at least a week, if not much longer. Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities.