Drivers in Alaska: Slow down. Winter weather is likely here to stay and a near-term weather forecast calls for slick roads, accumulations of ice and, yes, perhaps even snow.
A thin layer of the white stuff blanketed Anchorage Saturday, the first real accumulation of the winter season, which arrived later than normal and follows an "astoundingly warm" October in Alaska. A wet weather cycle was forecast to deliver moderate to heavy rainfall into the Anchorage Bowl beginning Saturday night and continuing through Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service Alaska.
That rain will “possibly” be mixed with snow before midnight along the Anchorage Hillside and beyond into the Turnagain Arm region. Up to an inch of wet snow was forecast Sunday on the Hillside and at elevations higher.
Valley residents are experiencing freezing rain, too. A frozen drizzle was expected to melt into steady rain by Saturday night, with up to 2 inches of snow possible in the mountains surrounding Wasilla, Palmer and beyond in the Mat-Su. Temperatures around Wasilla will float around 30 through the night and into Sunday, when heavy rain and snow were forecast to coat the Valley in as much as 4 inches of snow.
Alaskans farther north should expect weather that's consistently below freezing. Cold, really cold air was stuck beyond the Alaska Range in the state's vast Interior, and the National Weather Service had issued winter storm warnings from the Bering Strait to the Canadian border.
Fairbanksians and the residents of the middle Tanana Valley were hunkered down amid a winter storm warning likely to remain in effect through Sunday night. The warning calls for freezing rain and heavy snow.
Three to 10 inches of snow will cover the Interior valley, the weather service predicted. But the freezing rain -- and accumulations up to half an inch of ice -- were more worrisome. Ice may cause trees and power lines to break; travel and outdoor activities will be very difficult, the weather service warns.
Across the Alaskan Panhandle and in Southeast communities, weather was expected to remain cloudy and rainy, though warm enough to cancel out any hopes (or fears) of snow accumulation.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated Saturday, Nov. 9, at 10:30 p.m. to advise drivers to slow down instead of suggesting they pump their brakes. While pumping the brakes of your older Alaskan car might be helpful, so doing in a vehicle with anti-locking brakes may not be so effective.