The journey on the Seward Highway between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula could be “almost impossible” on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, as a major winter storm brings wind gusts of up to 115 mph and heavy snow in parts of Southcentral Alaska, forecasts say.
The National Meteorological Service issued a wind warning for much of the Southcentral, including Anchorage and the west of the Kenai Peninsula, from Monday evening to Tuesday afternoon.
Gusts of up to 60 mph are expected in the Anchorage Bowl and could reach up to 100 mph along the Anchorage Hillside. The strongest winds are anticipated early Tuesday morning.
Although strong gusts do not usually reach the Anchorage Bowl, meteorologist Ben Bartos said residents should tie anything free that could be blown or damaged by the wind.
The Anchorage area is not expected to see a significant accumulation of snow, Bartos said. The temperature is expected to rise over freezing on Tuesday, which Bartos said will make the roads weaker.
“As for the snow package itself, it will take a while,” he said. “The warmer air and the strong winds we receive will chew some of the snow. We have enough ground base, where we will have more snow. “
The meteorological service warned that driving conditions could be dangerous on Monday evening along the Turnagain Arm, while strong winds pair with blowing snow. The area could see gusts of up to 115 mph, the weather service said.
A blizzard warning was issued from Portage Valley to Seward, where Bartos said the worst conditions were to be expected. The weather service advises those who need to travel to bring a winter survival kit and expect near-bleaching conditions.
The storm could drop to 2 centimeters of snow per hour and will cover western Kenai with 1 to 3 meters of snow. Turnagain Pass is expected to record the largest accumulations.
“The journey could be almost impossible,” the warning said. “Large-scale blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility under bleaching conditions. Very strong winds could cause power outages and severe damage to trees. “
The storm system was developing early Monday in the North Pacific and was expected to move to Southcentral Alaska by that evening. Bartos said the system should reach the Kenai Peninsula with snow around 9 p.m.
The snow is expected to pass in the rain as the storm continues, starting along the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula. The overnight transition in Seward is expected, and Bartos said the city could see at least a few inches of rain on Tuesday. Heavy rainfall is expected to end by that evening.
The weather service issued a small flood warning from Seward to Moose Pass, from Monday evening until early Wednesday. Heavy rains could cause flooding in Seward, Bear Lake, Crown Point, Primrose Campground and Kenai Lake, although the weather service said frost levels will not be high enough to cause widespread flooding.
“Tuesday’s rain could cause flooding in poorly drained areas, blocked bridges and small ice jams,” the adviser said. “Heavy rain on snowy roads can also lead to water deposition on roads and dangerous driving conditions.”
Strong winds are also forecast for the Knik and Matanuska valleys on Monday and Tuesday, with gusts of up to 60 mph possible. Temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees on Tuesday.
The storm comes at the same time with a rare astronomical conjunction that will put Jupiter and Saturn closer to each other in the sky than they have been for centuries. Bartos said the show will not be visible in Anchorage or most of Southcentral Alaska, however, due to the storm system.
“Wherever you are, the weather will be bad,” Bartos said.