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First a record-high temperature, then record-breaking snowfall hit Anchorage on Saturday

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: November 18
  • Published November 17

The Anchorage area saw its first significant snowfall Saturday, with totals in town starting at 5 inches and piling up to over a foot in Eagle River.

Anchorage not only broke records for snowfall and precipitation amounts Saturday, but also tied the 1967 high-temperature record by reaching 45 degrees at around 3 a.m. National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Drewitz said southeast winds blew warm air from the Turnagain Arm into the city early Saturday and caused temperatures to rise. As the winds subsided, temperatures dropped and snow began to fall in quarter-sized flakes.

The weather service warned Saturday of intermittent white-out conditions on the Glenn Highway, and Anchorage Police issued an online alert about icy roads Sunday morning.

Snow levels at the weather service’s office, just south of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, broke the 1958 record of 8.3 inches by a tenth of an inch.

The University area received 5 inches of snow, while downtown Anchorage and the Government Hill neighborhood had 7 inches. Mountain View measured 7.8 inches and Hillside had 10 inches of snow measured near Upper DeArmoun.

Eagle River was hit hardest by the snow, with 12.2 inches measured on Upper Hiland Road. Nine inches of snow fell in East Eagle River and 8 inches near Button Circle. West Palmer had 9.9 inches of snow and Big Lake had 9 inches.

Snow falls near Westchester Lagoon as a runner passes on the Chester Creek Trail on November 16, 2019. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Temperatures Sunday are expected to remain at or slightly below freezing, Drewitz said. Downtown Anchorage is expected to reach 32 degrees, while the high temperature in Eagle River was predicted to be 28 degrees. Meteorologist Bob Clay said another 1 to 2 inches of snow could fall Sunday night in the Anchorage area and Mat-Su Valley.

The snowfall comes after an unseasonably warm fall. Anchorage and other cities had record-breaking temperatures in late October and the warm weather continued into November. The first and only snowfall in Anchorage saw before Nov. 16 was two-tenths of an inch of snow on Oct. 16.

Drewitz said it’s unclear if the snow is here to stay. Temperatures are expected to rise and pair with heavy winds Tuesday and Wednesday, which could melt the snow, he said.

A second storm is expected to travel east from the north Pacific Ocean and reach the Anchorage area Tuesday. Clay said it is more likely that the Anchorage area will see rain or a wintry mix, rather than snowfall. Meteorologists are still uncertain how much precipitation the storm will bring.

“If you like snow, enjoy it for the next two days because come Tuesday and Wednesday we’re looking at warmer temperatures and winds,” he said.

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