Growing confidence for wintry mix into New Year’s Day
Winter Weather Advisories issued for Southcentral
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Unseasonably warm weather will close out this year, with an increased threat for winter weather as we ring in the New Year.
While previous significant storms in Southcentral Alaska brought multiple inches of snowfall, this upcoming storm will be entering a warmer environment. It will also be bringing an even stronger push of warm air and plenty of moisture with it. As a result, there will be multiple forms of precipitation that occur on Sunday and Monday. To help with planning for New Year’s activities, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for a combination of light snow and freezing rain for Anchorage, the western Kenai Peninsula, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and the Copper River Basin for Sunday. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for the eastern Kenai Peninsula and western Prince William Sound where snow will be heaviest, perhaps up to 2 feet, for elevations above 1,000 feet, including Turnagain Pass.
For now, expect both Dec. 30 and New Year’s Eve to be relatively quiet. We’ll continue to see temperatures remaining fairly warm with highs in the upper 20s and lower 30s. It’s possible that we’ll even see some parts of Southcentral warm into the 40s near the coast. While some flurries can’t be ruled out both today and tomorrow, any activity will be light and bring little to no impact to the region.
Things begin to change on New Year’s Eve, as an area of low pressure moving out of the Northern Pacific just south of the Aleutian Islands strengthens. As the low moves from west to east, it will deepen and lead to an increase in winds for open waters of the Gulf of Alaska through the day Saturday. The biggest impacts for New Year’s Eve will primarily be over Kodiak, where wet and windy conditions will impact the region. The area of low pressure will continue to deepen as it builds closer to Southcentral, leading to an increase in gusty winds through Prince William Sound, parts of the Kenai and through Portage Valley. While inland regions will see some breezy if not windy conditions Saturday night into Sunday, the highest winds will occur near coastal areas.
The incoming low will have plenty of warmth and moisture associated with it, which will lead to some issues across parts of Bristol Bay and the Lake and Peninsula region. We’ll see areas of blowing snow and falling snow that could reduce visibility as winds pick up from the approaching low.
For Southcentral, the biggest issue will remain the precipitation type. As mentioned above, the warmth coming in with this system will warm temperatures near or above freezing. This warmth — combined with the incoming moisture — will almost certainly lead to a large swath of Southcentral seeing a gradual transition from snow to a wintry mix, and possibly freezing rain. Hazardous travel could be an issue throughout the day Sunday, as we look to see the bulk of the precipitation arrive through the early afternoon hours of New Year’s Day.
Go ahead and have a plan in place, freezing rain and wintry mix will once again lead to significant issues on roads and elevated surfaces. While the warmer air moving in will lead to temperatures warming above freezing, the extended period of below-freezing temperatures will only mean that the melting precipitation will lead to slicker and icier conditions.
Southeast Alaska will also see the impacts from this storm, as widespread wintry mix and winds build into the region. This active weather pattern is set to remain through the first week of January, with temperatures for much of the state remaining on the seasonal if not warmer side.
Have a wonderful and Happy New Year!
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