Update, 4:30 p.m.: First a snowstorm, and now sub-zero temperatures. Welcome to spring, Anchorage residents. After absorbing more than a foot of snow, temperatures are forecast to hover between -5 and 5 degrees in Anchorage, and between -5 to -10 degrees in East Anchorage, on Tuesday. The dipping temperatures may even break the record cold temperature for March 26, set in 1938, of -7 degrees, according to KTVA meteorologist Brett Shepard. "Think warm thoughts," he advises.
The snowstorm that dashed Anchorage residents' hopes of an early spring dumped around 15 inches of snow on the city from Sunday morning through Monday night, the highest two-day total that Alaska's largest city has seen so far this year.
Chris Burling, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said 15 inches of new snow were reported near the Hillside and at the Upper O'Malley trailhead into Chugach State Park. On the south side of town, reports of 8-10 inches had trickled in, while one person reported 14-16 inches near the intersection of Dimond and Victor road. At the National Weather Service's office on Sand Lake Road, about 13 inches of snow were measured on Monday. The storm was the "highest two-day total that we've seen so far this season," Burling said.
With the storm, Anchorage has now seen 76.7 inches of snow this season, slightly above the average of 74.5 inches.
However, "we're still well behind what we saw last year," Burling said. On March 25, 2012, Anchorage was swimming in 128.6 inches of snow. Last year's snowpocalypse saw the highest seasonal total ever.
At Alyeska Ski Resort, Alaska's largest ski area, 26 inches of snow fell at the top of Chair Six from Sunday through Tuesday morning. "It snowed pretty hard for a long period of time," Jessica Pezak, director of marketing at Alyeska, said. "The snow is super light and fluffy from the bottom all the way to the top, which is pretty awesome."
The resort is bustling right now, and the regular terrain is open, Pezak said. A safety crew is doing avalanche mitigation work to make sure that outer areas are safe. Those areas may open later Tuesday or Wednesday.
The resort's snow report advises people to "Call in sick and ask your parents to let you skip school; this will be the day you've been waiting for all year."
Was the snowstorm winter's last gasp? Maybe not. Some snow is forecast for later this week, but nowhere near what just fell. "It looks like we'll be clear up through tomorrow and then we'll have a chance of snow Wednesday and Thursday" Burling said. From Friday through Sunday, the forecast is mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. But winter can't hold on forever, right? Friday may see temperatures up to 45 degrees.
Up-to-date forecasting is available on the National Weather Service website.
Contact Laurel Andrews at laurel(at)alaskadispatch.com