Live updates: Historic storm delivers record cold, high winds and snow

Friday weather update for Alaska from Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 1:48 PM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:58 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A winter storm is moving through Southcentral. The Alaska’s Weather Source team will be updating this story throughout the day to bring you the latest on the storm.

April 10 — 10:00 a.m.

Another record falls in Anchorage

After breaking three temperature records in under 18 hours, Anchorage set a new cold temperature record Saturday with a new low record of 4 degrees. The previous record was 7 degrees set in 1985. If you’re looking for warmer weather, that begins tonight. Temperatures around Anchorage should stay in the upper teens and look for highs above freezing on Sunday. A new round of storms is making its way into Southwest today.

April 9 — 6:45 p.m.

New records set, cold continues another night

3 new records were set in Anchorage in the last 18 hours! With temperatures in the single digits overnight and just 20° this afternoon, this is the coldest weather we’ve ever experienced in Anchorage on April 8th and 9th. Another record will go down Saturday if we drop below 7° overnight.

This storm also brought in wind gusts to 170 mph (at 5,000′), more than 90 mph near Valdez and over 60 mph in Seward. The cold sticks with us one more day with light snow possible Saturday, then it’s back to the 40s next week with chances for a wintry mix.

April 9 — 5:15 p.m.

Snow blankets Juneau

The storm that brought light snow and high winds to Southcentral Thursday also brought heavy snow to Southeast Alaska. Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey says more than a foot of snow was reported in Haines and Yakutat while Juneau picked up about three inches of heavy wet snow Friday. At only nine days into the month, this is already a top 10 snowiest April on record for Juneau, following March which came in at the 8th snowiest.

The area will get a quick break Saturday before more snow, mixed with rain, moves in early Sunday.

The storm that brought light snow and high winds to Southcentral Thursday also brought heavy snow to Southeast Alaska....

Posted by Alaska's News Source on Friday, April 9, 2021

April 9 — 11:15 a.m.

Power outage updates

Chugach Electric Association has restored power to all affected members, following a clearing of debris and patrolling the main line.

Additionally, the Copper Valley Electric Association said in an additional post on Facebook that they are experiencing another outage in Valdez from a fallen tree on a line. Crews are expected to have the power restored within 2 hours.

April 9 — 8:30 a.m.

Valdez, Seward power outages

The Copper Valley Electric Association shared on Facebook around 8 a.m. that it is currently experiencing an outage in Valdez, affecting members in town and out to mile marker 10 on Richardson Highway. The outage is due to a fault in the system. Line crews are en route. The exact cause and duration are unknown at this time. Power is said to be restored systematically throughout the Valdez core.

The Seward Police Department also shared a Facebook post earlier today about power outages in the Forest Acres area. Power is said to be restored now, but Seward police said residents without power should call (907) 224-3338.

April 9 — 8:05 a.m.

Section of Richardson Highway closed

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said Richardson Highway at Thompson Pass, mile markers 18-45, is closed. There is currently no visibility in that section due to high winds. Transportation crews reported 100 mph winds. The forecast shows conditions improving later tonight.

UPDATE: Thompson Pass is now OPEN, but conditions are VERY DIFFICULT. Please use extreme caution if you must...

Posted by Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities on Friday, April 9, 2021

April 9 — 7:25 a.m.

Historic cold and new records

Just before the stroke of midnight last night, temperatures dropped to 9 degrees. It was a brand new record for April 8 in the Anchorage Bowl and the first for Alaska’s largest city since 2017. As bitterly cold Arctic air continues to surge into the state, the thermometer is steadily falling. Just this morning, Anchorage hit a brand new record low for the second consecutive day in a row. As of this update, temperatures dipped to 6 degrees, breaking the old record of 7 degrees set back in 1986.

This trend of bitter cold will continue throughout the day, with afternoon highs struggling to climb out of the teens. Even with the sunshine that will grip Southcentral, the day will feel more like the middle of winter and nothing like April. Winds, which have been an issue, won’t be as windy today. However, we’ll still be under a northerly flow with gusts likely up to 30 mph. The only exception will still be coastal regions from Seward to Valdez, where near hurricane-force winds are likely. Be mindful that power outages can still occur, as long as the strong winds remain.

Chugach Electric Association continues to report that nearly 400 customers are still without power, as winds look to be the primary driver in the outage.

April 8 — 11:55 p.m.

Power outages hit Kenai Peninsula

As Southcentral Alaska continues to experience a three-stage winter storm, several Kenai Peninsula communities are being hit with power outages Thursday night.

Homer Electric Association reported at 10:15 p.m. Thursday that it was responding to an outage in the Sterling area affecting 239 members. HEA also reported shortly after 11:30 p.m. that it would respond to another, smaller outage impacting 34 members in Kasilof.

Chugach Electric Association reported around 10:30 p.m. Thursday that it was sending a crew from Anchorage to take care of an outage impacting 455 members in Cooper Landing.

April 8 — 9:50 p.m.

Anchorage bundles up ahead of late season winter storm

Some people stayed inside Thursday, but by sunset, it was expected to be a full house again at the emergency homeless shelter at Sullivan Arena.

“We’ve been able to accommodate everyone seeking shelter,” said Lisa Sauder, executive director of Bean’s Cafe, which operates the shelter. “They may not be able to get a 24-hour cot, but they won’t be turned away.”

Capacity at the arena is 400 people. Another 50 people can stay in the two warming tents set up next to the building. Sauder says it’s been this way since the emergency shelter opened a year ago.

Read more: Anchorage bundles up ahead of late season winter storm

April 8 — 9:32 p.m.

Subzero wind chills come to Anchorage

As the area of low pressure that brought snow to Southcentral this morning exits east, the snow has ended, but is now being picked up and blown around as strong winds follow the departure of the low and usher in a very cold arctic airmass. Records are possible, too.

If it drops to 9 degrees at the airport in Anchorage before midnight, it would set a new low temperature record for April 8.

Residents could also see a low temperature record set again on the April 9 if it stays at 7 degrees or below for the overnight low temperature.

Finally, if the daytime high on Friday stays below 24 degrees — and it is forecast to reach just 19 degrees — that would become the coldest April 9 daytime high on record, or a record low maximum. The low maximum record for Friday in Anchorage is 24 degrees from 2013.

Wind chills SC 4-8-21
Wind chills SC 4-8-21(Alaska's Weather Source)

Wind speeds will continue to increase into the overnight hours with peak gusts of 50 mph likely for Anchorage, and 70-75 mph gusts are likely in Seward, Kodiak and Valdez overnight.

Peak wind gusts reached 41 mph as of 9 p.m. in Anchorage. The winds are higher to the south, reaching 54 mph in Seward and 48 mph on the Homer Spit and 61 mph in Kodiak.

April 8 — 5:23 p.m.

Winds picking up

As the area of low pressure that brought snow to Southcentral this morning moves east, the snow is tapering off and the winds are starting to pick up.

Peak wind gusts reached 35 mph as of 5 p.m. in Anchorage. The winds are higher to the south, reaching 47 mph in Seward and 40 mph in Homer and 58 mph in Kodiak.

These wind speeds will continue to increase into the overnight hours with peak gusts of 50 mph likely for Anchorage, and 70-75 mph gusts are likely in Seward, Kodiak and Valdez overnight.

Peak wind gusts as of 5 p.m.
Peak wind gusts as of 5 p.m.(Alaska's Weather Source)

April 8 — 1:28 p.m.

Three-stage storm

One winter storm with three major impacts is moving across Southcentral. The first impact from this storm was the snow, which moved into the region late Wednesday. The snow is tapering off across Southcentral. Snow reports from Sterling show 4 inches of snow came through. A storm report from Eagle River shows 2.8 inches of snow and parts of southwest Anchorage saw 1.9 inches of snow.

Unlike most spring snows, this snow is light and will be easily blown around by the winds. This could reduce visibility when traveling.

The next stage of the storm will be high winds. A high wind warning is in place for the Seward area until 10 p.m. Friday. Winds out of the northwest 25 mph to 40 mph are expected, along with gusts of 60 mph to 70 mph. The winds will increase through Thursday afternoon and are expected to peak Thursday night after midnight through Friday morning. The winds will gradually decrease through Friday afternoon. As of 1 p.m. Thursday, the peak gust for Seward was 43 mph. Recordings near Lake Iliamna show a 51 mph gust.

Thompson Pass and Valdez will also be under a high wind warning starting Thursday at 7 p.m. Northeast winds are expected 40 mph to 60 mph with gusts to 75 mph in Thompson Pass. Valdez could see northeast winds 40 mph to 55 mph with gusts to 70 mph.

For Anchorage, elevated winds are expected particularly in west Anchorage. The winds will increase through Thursday afternoon peaking after midnight Thursday night into Friday morning. Expect sustained winds of about 30 mph with gusts of 50 mph to 55 mph.

It is unusual for Anchorage to see winds this high coming out of the north, so areas that typically don’t see strong winds could be impacted.

The winds will usher in the third stage of this storm drawing cold air and low wind chills into Southcentral. Temperatures are expected to drop to near 5 degrees in west Anchorage and near 5 below zero in east Anchorage by early Friday morning. Wind chills will drop to 15 below zero to 25 below zero across Anchorage with areas around the Hillside seeing wind chills to near 30 below zero.

Secure loose objects that might be affected by the wind and dress to protect your skin from those cold wind chills which can quickly cause frostbite on exposed skin.

The Mat-Su will see slightly elevated winds Thursday afternoon but gusts should stay below 25 mph. Temperatures will drop to about 5 below zero overnight but light winds will keep the wind chills near the ambient air temperatures.

Stay with the Alaska’s Weather Source Weather team for continuing coverage on this late winter storm and for up-to-the-minute weather information; download our weather app available for free in the app store.

Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.