Winter storm impacts: Heavy snow set to arrive Wednesday evening

The heaviest snow will fall overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 8:13 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s Groundhog Day again, as the never-ending cycle of snow continues to slam into Southcentral Alaska. With only half of the month gone, Anchorage has already secured itself into the top 10 in terms of snowfall in December. With a healthy snow depth of just under 3 feet, more snow moving into Southcentral could cause issues.

Light snow continues to fall across Southcentral Wednesday morning, with many waking up to a few inches of fresh powder. While light snow showers can’t be ruled out through the day, the bulk of the precipitation moves in during the evening hours. It’s here where Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories across Southcentral are set to go into effect.

Most of Southcentral remains under a Winter Storm Warning through Thursday morning.
Most of Southcentral remains under a Winter Storm Warning through Thursday morning.(Alaska's News Source)

The winter weather alert times vary across Southcentral, but for all locations, the heaviest snow will arrive after the evening commute.

  • Western Kenai - Winter Weather Advisory begins at 9 p.m. Wednesday and lasts until 6 a.m. Thursday
  • Anchorage & Mat-Su Valley - Winter Storm Warning begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and lasts until 9 a.m. Thursday
  • Valdez/Thompson Pass - Winter Storm Warning begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday and lasts until 3 p.m. Thursday
  • Copper River Basin - Winter Storm Warning begins at 9 p.m. Wednesday and lasts until 3 p.m. Thursday

The latest track of the low keeps it a bit further south than previous model runs. What this means for Southcentral is that our snow totals will be largely affected and the chance for wintry mix won’t be as further inland as anticipated. We’ll likely begin to see the onset of the heavier snow move into the Southern Kenai by this afternoon. While snow will likely initially fall, as warmer air moves inland we could see a changeover to a wintry mix or cold rain for areas near Kachemak Bay. This will be one area of the Kenai that sees little snow with this system. Further north along the Sterling Highway near Kenai, Soldotna and Nikiski heavier snow can be expected. While a brief shot of a wintry mix will still occur through the overnight hours, snow accumulation will still bring the biggest impacts. It’s looking possible that 3 to 9 inches of snow will fall across the Kenai, with localized heavier amounts possible near Nikiski and locations near the inlet.

There’s good news for inland regions of Southcentral, as the track of the low will limit if we’ll see any wintry mix make it inland. Should it occur, it most likely will happen for areas near the Knik Arm. While the threat is there for a brief wintry mix into the evening, the vast majority of the region will see all snow. This system doesn’t look to bring record daily snowfall to the region, but many areas could see an additional 5 to 14 inches across Southcentral. Higher totals will occur along the Anchorage and Eagle River Hillside, at higher elevations and for south-facing slopes across the region. From Wasilla through Palmer it’s safe to say that up to 8 inches of snow could fall, with some areas seeing slightly higher amounts. The lowest snowfall totals will fall west of the Parks Highway, where very light accumulation will occur.

One important thing to note is that although many areas will still see multiple inches of snowfall, it’s the combined recent snow depth and upcoming snow that will lead to issues on the roads. Road crews continue to work around the clock to clear roads, so expect delays once again and side streets and residential streets to take some time to see the snow cleared. As a result of the incoming snow, commuters should expect to budget plenty of time into their schedules for Thursday.

With that said, Thursday could be another day where you shouldn’t be on the roads if you don’t have to. Should you venture out these are the impacts one can expect to experience through Thursday morning.

  1. Snow-covered roads from 6 to 12″. Vehicles with a low clearance could be easily stuck.
  2. Visibility issues in some of the heavier snow bands and heavy traffic areas.
  3. Slow commute times. You’ll want to budget an extra 30 minutes to an hour into your time.
  4. Slick or icy conditions in areas that manage to see a wintry mix through the night.

This upcoming snow will easily move Anchorage into the top 5 for accumulated December snowfall. Anchorage has already broken the wettest year on record and it’s looking likely that we could see the snowiest December on record if the region sees roughly 10 more inches of snow before the end of the year.

The impacts from this storm will be far-reaching, as winter storm warnings are also in effect for parts of the Interior. Areas of the Interior can expect the snow to arrive into the night, where up to a foot of additional snow is possible.

As this system fizzles out and moves into Southeast as mostly rain, colder and drier air will return to the state. By this weekend expect sunnier and colder conditions to make a return to Southcentral. It’s possible we could see the return to single-digit highs and overnight lows falling below zero.

Stay safe and practice patience when out on the roads!