Feb. 3—More snow is expected to fall in Anchorage and surrounding areas this weekend, along with gusting winds that forecasters say could make for challenging travel conditions and limited visibility.
Between 4 and 8 inches of snow was forecast to fall on Anchorage, Eagle River, Indian and Eklutna through midday Sunday, with higher localized snow accumulation possible, according to a winter weather advisory issued Saturday by the National Weather Service.
Strong wind gusts were also likely, according to the advisory, which said visibility could be reduced to half a mile or less at times due to blowing snow caused by wind gusts up to 15 mph.
"Our biggest hazard really is going to be reduced visibility," said meteorologist Virginia Rux with the National Weather Service's Anchorage office.
"Travel will definitely be challenging for anywhere that's been especially cold and will be getting snow," she said, adding that colder conditions often cause snow to "re-suspend," or continue blowing after it has fallen.
The winds were expected to pick up Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning, with the highest snowfall totals and strongest winds forecast for West Anchorage, the weather service said in the advisory.
It's been a record-breaking season for Anchorage snowfall: More than 100 inches of snow has fallen so far this winter, with this week marking the earliest point on record that the city has passed that 100-inch milestone.
A winter weather advisory was also in place for the Western Kenai Peninsula — including Soldotna, Homer, Kenai and Cooper Landing — where 4 to 12 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 30 mph were expected, posing similar driving hazards. And in Thompson Pass near Valdez, wind chills as low as minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit were forecast this weekend, along with up to 8 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 35 mph.
Meanwhile, forecasters also said temperatures across Southcentral Alaska are expected to slowly rise to more normal ranges, after a prolonged cold snap has brought frigid, mostly subzero conditions in Anchorage and other parts of the region.
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On Saturday morning, the weather service recorded a temperature of minus 21 at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport — the coldest low at the airport since 2009.
Rux said that over the last several days, Anchorage has seen temperatures as much as 30 degrees below what is typical for this time of year, due to an arctic air mass that has hovered over the area.
"It looks like we may get closer to seasonably normal temperatures" beginning early this coming week, Rux said — closer to the teens and lower 20s.