A winter mess: From cold rain to heavy wet snow

A plume of moisture is poised to bring the return to winter weather
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 8:37 PM AKDT
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If you haven’t changed over to your winter tires yet, this upcoming storm will be reason to. While things remained fairly quiet today outside of reports of flurries and graupel falling across the valley, the activity is expected to increase into Sunday. A plume of moisture originating in the Pacific Ocean is riding over a very large high situated well to our south. This moisture will set the stage for what will be the return to a winter wonderland for a good portion of Southcentral.

Initially we’ll start off Sunday with just some cold light rain, with a wintry mix for the Copper River Basin. As the day progresses and we tap into more moisture we can expect to slowly see a changeover to a wintry mix for Anchorage, Mat-Su and a good portion of the Kenai. The only exception will be coastal regions where rain will be the dominant precipitation type through the entirety of the event.

Ahead of this storm a Winter Weather Advisory has already been issued for the Copper River Basin and Thompson Pass beginning at 6pm Sunday evening and lasting through 6pm Monday evening. Here anywhere from 10 to 20 inches of snow can be expected, with localized heavier amounts.

For Anchorage and surrounding areas, the forecast becomes tricky. This is due to the area being right on the snow/rain line that will make the forecast a challenge. For now expecting an onset of cold rain for the region. Initially we should be dry as there is plenty of drier air aloft that will have to erode away. As the moisture falls through the drier air and evaporates it will eventually saturate the column of air and lead to a cold rain hitting the ground. This should occur sometimes towards late morning into the afternoon hours. Beyond that expect a gradual changeover to a wintry mix towards the late afternoon and early evening. It’s here where road conditions could begin to deteriorate overnight Sunday into the Monday morning commute.

For now expecting the Anchorage Hillside and higher elevations to see a decent snowfall event from this storm. From Anchorage into the Valley expect anywhere from 2-5″ of snow with localized heavier amounts. The Kenai can expect to see some light snowfall cover from this event up to 2″, but snow will be hard to come by the closer to the coast you live.

This is an evolving forecast and due to the high uncertainty of when the exact changeover will occur, be sure to stay tuned to Alaska’s Weather Source.

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