Snow expected on Southcentral Alaska roads by Friday

The National Weather Service is urging Southcentral Alaska drivers to prepare for icy roads Friday morning as a storm system is expected to bring a blend of rain, snow and low temperatures to the region overnight.

A special weather statement for the region, issued by the Weather Service on Thursday morning, called for a blend of snow and rain to enter the Susitna and Matanuska valleys Thursday afternoon, then reach Anchorage by Thursday evening.

"A changeover to all snow will occur sometime Thursday night with snow moving east into the Copper River Basin and towards Valdez Friday," meteorologists wrote. "Arctic air moving in behind the cold front may also create slick and hazardous driving conditions for the Friday morning commute from the Susitna Valley southward into the Anchorage area."

Jason Ahsenmacher, an Anchorage-based meteorologist, said that "basically everything north of the Kenai" in the region would be affected by the new pattern. Up to 3 inches of snow is expected in the Anchorage area, with the deepest totals expected in East Anchorage and along the Hillside.

Although reports had already come in Thursday of sporadic rain and snow in the region, Ahsenmacher said it's unlikely that the afternoon commute will be seriously affected.

"What we're thinking is it's going to be too warm near the surface to support snow, so light rain during the commute and then snow into the evening (and) late evening," Ahsenmacher said.

Forecasters were less optimistic about Friday morning, and the Weather Service is urging drivers to remember the icy roads when preparing for Friday's commute and get an earlier start.

"Traveling conditions will be the worst we've seen during this fall-winter season," Ahsenmacher said.

After Friday, much of Southcentral should see cold but clear conditions through the weekend until Tuesday, when the Arctic air mass leaves and a new storm system brings rain to the region, forecasters said.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.