Southcentral, Southwest Alaska to see deep subzero wind chills through the weekend

a road camera image
Snow blows across the Parks Highway near the Glenn-Parks highway interchange at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in a state road camera image. (From Alaska DOTPF)

A weather system bringing Arctic air to Southcentral and Southwest Alaska has meteorologists warning of subzero temperatures, along with wind gusts that could bring wind chill to 50 degrees below zero in some areas.

The National Weather Service’s Anchorage office posted an overview of the conditions Tuesday afternoon, saying the worst wind chills were likely in low-lying areas like mountain passes.

Anchorage-based NWS meteorologist Michael Kutz said Wednesday morning that the cold snap was being produced by two weather systems bracketing the state to the east and west.

“What we have is a broad area of low pressure that’s over on the Canadian border, and an area of high pressure that’s out to our west,” he said. “And it is straight-funneling cold air down from the Arctic, all the way down into both Southcentral and Southwestern Alaska.”

While temperatures in Anchorage are expected to drop to the single digits, with parts of East Anchorage falling below zero, Kutz said winds accompanying the cold snap will make them feel much colder – as low as 40 degrees below zero in Southcentral Alaska and 50 below in inland Southwest areas, according to the weather service.

“You combine that with the advent of the light winds, generally around 10 miles per hour, and your wind chills drop down rather quickly,” he said.

The bitter-cold conditions will require people to don winter coats and cover exposed skin, which can quickly suffer frostbite as temperatures near 20 below.

“Exposed skin freezes within about five minutes,” Kutz said. “And that’s when you start getting damaged and go into frostbite mode, where you can possibly lose body parts.”

Kutz urged homeless people across the region, who have suffered hypothermia and frostbite cases during a winter marked by plummeting temperatures and major snow dumps, to seek warming shelters. Anchorage has recently ramped down to one such shelter on 56th Avenue from three, as their use declined following a January chill.

The deep cold descends again during Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous, as the city ramps up for the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Temperatures are forecast to drop down to a low of 11 below Friday night and then crawl back to a high of 12 degrees on Saturday morning as the dog sled teams parade through the city.

The cold snap should let up starting Sunday, Kutz said, giving way to Southcentral snow early next week from a system currently moving up the Aleutian chain.

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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