An ongoing Southcentral Alaska snowstorm has so far left snowfall totals ranging from 12 to 22 inches in Anchorage, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kutz said Thursday morning. The storm was initially forecast to transition overnight to rain but remained mostly snow.
There was 12.2 inches of fresh snow near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, 18 inches in the Rabbit Creek area and 22 inches on the Hillside, Kutz said. A report from Eagle River showed 14 inches of snow.
And the snow was expected to keep coming. Another 1 to 2 inches was forecast to fall in much of Anchorage, with 2 to 4 inches possible on the east side, Kutz said. The precipitation could shift to rain or a mix of snow and rain later Thursday, bringing under a half-inch of liquid equivalent through the day, he said. A flood watch remained in effect.
Temperatures overnight were expected to drop below freezing, and Kutz warned there may be a glaze of ice throughout Anchorage by Friday morning. The high temperature Friday was expected to hover around freezing, and colder weather was expected to continue through the weekend, he said.
Whittier and Portage saw snow that shifted to rain, Kutz said. In 24 hours, Whittier had seen close to 2 inches of rain, he said. The wintry weather prompted the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough school districts to announce they would shift to remote learning Thursday.
The storm caused widespread power outages Thursday morning, affecting nearly 4,000 Chugach Electric members, largely in Anchorage and Girdwood, and more than 6,000 Homer Electric Association members from Nikiski to Sterling.
The Seward Highway was closed early Thursday from near Summit Lake to Moose Pass, and heavy snow was making it impassable in places from Seward to Turnagain Pass, the Alaska Department of Transportation said.
Twenty-five vehicle crashes were reported by Anchorage police Wednesday through Thursday morning, including three with injuries, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said. Eighty vehicles were reported to be in the ditch or otherwise disabled, she said.
The heavy snowfall was a significant departure from the minor accumulation of about an inch throughout the Anchorage Bowl that the weather service was originally predicting Wednesday morning — and par for the course for this storm that’s eluding the usual meteorological models, in part due to missing data from an out-of-service radar system on the Kenai Peninsula.
The weather service took the relatively unusual step during a briefing Tuesday to describe two separate scenarios, one involving far more snow and the other rain. The agency’s prior predictions Tuesday called for “heavy precipitation” either as rain or snow.
By Wednesday morning, it looked like Anchorage might dodge the worst of either form of precipitation. But that later changed. But by noon, forecasters said, it was looking like heavier snow would start midafternoon.
Source: Anchorage Daily News