Snow lovers will get their prayers answered this week: a blast of warm tropical moisture is set to bury portions of Southcentral Alaska with up to 16 inches of snow, with freezing rain a possibility as a second storm front moves in on Wednesday. The storms prompted the National Weather Service to issue a special weather statement warning of unusually heavy, wet precipitation across Southwest and Southcentral Alaska.
And more tempests are expected later in the week, albeit smaller ones. They'll roll in from the tropics, too, with some regularity, keeping snowplow crews busy through the weekend and evoking memories of last year's record snowfall that sunk boats, cracked roofs and left shovelers sore.
Expect the fun to start around midnight in Anchorage, with falling snow that will eventually include freezing drizzle or rain, forecasters say.
Palmer and Wasilla will start getting hit a couple hours later. Close to a foot could fall there by Wednesday afternoon, but weather advisories at the moment call for only snow, no sleet. Wet flakes should be falling fast come morning, up to an inch an hour, affecting visibility on the Glenn Highway and along Turnagain Arm.
"Rush hour's going to be messy tomorrow, to put it mildly," said Christian Cassell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "There's so much warm air and moisture with this system that we'll see snow rates that should be pretty heavy by Anchorage standards."
It will last until late morning, with the Anchorage Bowl and Eagle River in line for five to nine inches from the first system. Localized dumps may approach a foot. A winter-weather advisory for those areas and the Matanuska Valley begins at midnight tonight, extending until 4 p.m. Wednesday
The Matanuska Valley can expect 6 to 10 inches in the Palmer and Wasilla area, but up to 14 inches may fall at higher elevations toward Sutton.
A winter weather advisory in the Copper River Basin will be in effect 3 a.m.-6 p.m Wednesday. Glennallen can expect 2 to 4 inches of snow, Cassell said. Areas toward the Alaska Range, such as Paxson or Eureka may see 4 to 8 inches. As much as 12 inches may fall in some areas.
The Susitna Valley, including Talkeetna, Willow and Cantwell, can expect 6 to 12 inches of snow.
Contact Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com