Anchorage heat wave leaves roads slushy before overnight freeze

A picture of traffic along Anchorage Alaska's Seward Highway
Slushy and icy roadways along the Seward Highway on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

A rise in local temperatures Thursday left snow from Anchorage’s recent winter storms turning into rainy slush, but a chill arriving overnight is expected to freeze roads across town by Friday morning.

That came as a foot of snow fell on northern parts of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, canceling school for some residents, with more snow in the forecast.

In Anchorage, most schools were open but had only limited bus service, with about 50 routes canceled for the day. O’Malley Elementary School was on a remote learning day due to unsafe road conditions. The Mat-Su Borough School District had remote learning in effect for schools in three of the district’s seven regions.

Christine Chen, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Anchorage saw a “warm push” that spiked temperatures into the low 40s Thursday morning.

Anchorage police reported 11 stranded vehicles and three non-injury crashes between midnight and 10 a.m. Thursday as temperatures rose. But Chen said the reprieve won’t last, with a mass of cooler air already on the way later Thursday.

“We’re expecting lows into the low 20s to teens, and then by Friday night, hovering around zero,” she said.

Temperatures are expected to remain above freezing until about 6 p.m., leaving Thursday’s evening commute slushy, with the worst effects set to arrive Friday morning.

“By late tonight, with those colder temperatures coming in, we could see all that start to kind of ice and glaze over,” Chen said. “So things could be a bit more slippery for (Friday) morning’s commute.”

Winds at all elevations in Anchorage were expected to gust to about 25 mph, Chen said.

No reports had reached the Weather Service of direct damage from downed trees amid heavy snow loads, Chen said.

According to an earlier statement, forecasters had expected higher gusts.

Chugach Electric reported crews had restored power in Hope and Indian. Matanuska Electric Association was responding to an 800-member outage in the Big Lake area.

Meteorologists were also monitoring building snowfall between Talkeetna and Cantwell, Chen said. Some areas reported about a foot of snow, in line with forecasts, which called for up to two feet of snowfall in some areas near Talkeetna by Friday.

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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