Alaska News

Strong winds hit Anchorage area as warming temperatures complicate travel

Strong winds and warming temperatures battered Anchorage on Wednesday, leaving some roads still covered in what’s become deep slushy snow as the city recovers from two storms in less than a week.

With gusts up to 70 mph reported, temperatures warmed above freezing through the day, softening snow on the ground and blasting accumulation off trees and power lines in some places, blocking roads with drifts in others.

Storms dropped more than 3 feet of snow throughout Anchorage since last week, putting the city on track for a new November snowfall record. The storms caused prolonged power outages and left roads difficult to navigate or impassable in places.

With many neighborhoods still buried in snow, the Anchorage School District shifted to remote learning every day this week through Wednesday. As plow crews scrambled to clear municipal roads, there was no word about a decision for Thursday by Wednesday afternoon.

District spokesman Corey Allen Young said in an email Wednesday that the district “continues to work in partnership with the Municipality to get our students and staff back in school tomorrow.”

Drivers on Wednesday reported deep, mushy snow covering a layer of ice on some roads, while others were clear and passable. Street parking was scarce in downtown Anchorage and some alleys leading to parking lots had large ruts. Pedestrians walked in the road alongside traffic in parts of town where sidewalks had yet to be plowed.

Anchorage police had responded to five collisions, one involving injuries, by about Wednesday afternoon, spokeswoman Renee Oistad said. Forty-three vehicles were reported in the ditch or otherwise disabled, she said.


Winds picked up Wednesday morning on the Hillside and near Eagle River and began to taper off into the afternoon, said meteorologist Christopher Quesada. A 70 mph gust was recorded in the Potter Valley area, and a 45 mph gust was reported along the Glenn Highway, meteorologists said.

The winds picked up in the Anchorage Bowl on Wednesday afternoon and were expected to slowly decrease overnight, meteorologist Carson Jones said. Gusts were expected to range from 25 to 35 mph in town, he said. A 37 mph gust was recorded around 3 p.m. near the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Quesada said.

Clarks Road in South Anchorage closed briefly late Wednesday morning because drifting snow and high wind made it impassable, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation. Crews were on scene to clear the road, the department said.

Gusty winds from Anchorage north to the Matanuska Valley today will add increased stress to snow-laden trees and power...

Posted by US National Weather Service Anchorage Alaska on Wednesday, November 15, 2023

By Wednesday evening, more than 1,100 homes and businesses from Eagle River to Caswell were without power, according to Matanuska Electric Association. Winds began to pick up around 4:35 a.m. in Mat-Su.

More than 620 Chugach Electric Association customers, mostly in Hope, were without power by Wednesday evening.

Through the end of the week, high temperatures are expected to hover around freezing or into the mid-30s before dropping into teens and single digits over the weekend, Jones said. That transition could create a glaze of ice on roads as temperatures cool.

The Susitna Valley could see anywhere from 10 to 25 inches of snow from Wednesday into Friday, the weather service said.

Light snow or a mix of rain and snow was expected Wednesday afternoon through Thursday in Anchorage, although little accumulation was expected, Quesada said.

— Daily News reporter Michelle Theriault Boots contributed reporting to this story.

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Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at