Blanketed: Feet of Snow Inundate Southcentral Alaska
Over a foot of snow has inundated Anchorage, with totals ranging from 12 to 22 inches in some parts of the city. Other areas of Southcentral Alaska like Eagle River and the Mat-Su Valley have also been blanketed with over a foot of fresh powder. This is just the beginning—more heavy snowfall is expected to continue dumping on the region throughout the day. The wintry blast has transformed the landscape into a snowy scene seemingly overnight.
Storm Intensifies, Defying Forecasts
This storm strengthened much more than predicted. Meteorologists originally called for only about an inch of accumulation in Anchorage, but the system ended up intensifying as it approached Southcentral. The severe weather models were thrown off partially due to missing data from a radar station that’s out of service on the Kenai Peninsula. With the storm defying expectations, Anchorage and surrounding communities woke up to nearly two feet of snow instead of a mere dusting.
Widespread Power Outages
The weight of the dense, wet snow has toppled trees and power lines across the region. Thousands woke up to no electricity Thursday morning, including nearly 4,000 Chugach Electric customers in Anchorage and over 6,000 Homer Electric members from Nikiski to Sterling. Additional outages may occur as the heavy snow continues weighing down lines.
Schools Shift to Remote Learning
The treacherous road conditions prompted Anchorage and Mat-Su schools to cancel classes and shift to remote learning for the day. With buses unable to navigate the snow-covered streets, keeping kids home from school was the safest choice. Other closures and cancellations have been announced as well due to the weather.
Seward Highway Shut Down
The Seward Highway is currently closed from Anchorage all the way down to Moose Pass due to the heavy snow. Other major thoroughfares like the Sterling Highway are also now impassable in many sections. Driving is extremely dangerous, and residents are being urged to stay off the roads if at all possible.
Slick Roads Lead to Crashes
Despite warnings to stay home, there have been numerous vehicle accidents reported. Anchorage police responded to 25 crashes Wednesday through Thursday morning, including some with injuries. Around 80 vehicles were also reported stranded or stuck in ditches along city roadways. Icy, snow-packed conditions continue creating hazards and headaches for drivers.
First Blast of Winter
This storm is the first real taste of winter weather for Southcentral Alaska this season. While snow in November isn’t unheard of, many residents were likely caught off guard by over a foot accumulating so early. But this is just a preview of the winter weather still in store over the coming months.
Freezing Temperatures on the Way
After the snow winds down, brace yourself for freezing temperatures. Lows are forecast to drop below 32°F through the weekend, meaning any standing water or wet snow will turn to ice. Icy patches and freezing rain could create even more dangerous travel conditions Friday morning.
Safety Tips for the Snow
When venturing out in the snowstorm, make sure to drive slowly and carefully, giving plows plenty of space. Avoid downed power lines, dress warmly in layers, and check on elderly neighbors. Have food, water, and other emergency supplies ready in case the power goes out. And don’t overexert yourself shoveling—take breaks and lift with your legs.
More Winter Weather Coming
This likely won’t be the last blizzard we’ll see this season. Winter has arrived early in Southcentral, so expect more snow over the coming months. Meteorologists predict this winter could bring above-average snowfall for the region. While we get a brief break, more storms are looming on the horizon. Ready or not, winter has come to Alaska.