Anchorage-area commuters can expect ‘messy’ storm Wednesday

a highway
Winter traffic moves along the Glenn Highway near Anchorage Bass Pro Shops store. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Fresh off a 6-inch weekend snow dump, Anchorage is set to see a wave of snowfall overnight Tuesday, transitioning into freezing rain and icy roads by Wednesday evening.

The Anchorage area will be under a winter storm watch from late Tuesday evening through Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kutz said the storm is expected to sweep north across the area, as part of a low-pressure system strengthening and moving over the Gulf of Alaska late Tuesday.

“Extending from this low will be a trough, which is just an extended area of low pressure,” Kutz said. “That’s going to swing over the Southcentral region, just like a pinwheel.”

The forecast calls for 1 to 3 inches of initial snowfall from Tuesday through Wednesday evening, Kutz said, accompanied by northerly winds up to 20 mph with gusts to about 35 mph by Wednesday.

Things are going to get messy starting Wednesday afternoon, Kutz said, as warmer temperatures cause a mix of rain and snow.

An associated flood watch calls for up to an inch of rainfall in Anchorage on Wednesday, which could lead to runoff accumulating in low-lying areas.

Then, an overnight dip in temperatures Wednesday means that by Thursday morning, Anchorage drivers can expect freezing rain on icy roads, Kutz said.

“You’re going to have a rather nasty, slushy half-frozen mess on the roads that are already cold from the previous snowfall,” Kutz said. “So there’ll be problems with the ice and slippery areas for people driving and walking.”

Nighttime temperatures from Wednesday onward will fall below freezing, meaning road conditions will shift during each day.

“The wetness and the snow and the slush and everything else, it’s going to be wet and sloppy during the daytime and hard and crusty at night,” he said.

Similar shifts are expected in the Mat-Su and the western Kenai Peninsula, which will be under a winter weather advisory overnight Tuesday.

No other storms are expected immediately after this week’s low-pressure front passes, Kutz said, with a 30 percent chance of Anchorage snowfall Friday night into Saturday and clear skies possible on Sunday.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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