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Cold and significant snowfall expected to follow record-breaking warmth in Anchorage

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: December 31, 2019
  • Published December 31, 2019

Vehicles travel through standing water on Lake Otis Parkway near Dowling Road on an unusually warm day on December 31, 2019. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Anchorage saw record-breaking warmth Tuesday morning, but meteorologists say temperatures are expected to drop rapidly in the evening and bring in snow.

Anchorage hit 45 degrees early Tuesday near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, breaking the previous Dec. 31 record high set last year by 1 degree. National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Bartos said temperatures in the city reached as high as 51 degrees near Tudor Road and Denali Street in Midtown.

A light drizzle was falling early Tuesday, and Bartos said light rain was expected on and off through the afternoon.

More than 6,000 Chugach Electric customers were without power for about an hour early Tuesday, and the utility posted on Twitter that "high winds are likely to make this a busy day.”

Temperatures are expected to drop in the afternoon as warm winds die down and cold air pushes into Southcentral Alaska. Snow is expected to start falling late Tuesday, and Bartos said Anchorage could see 4 to 8 inches by Wednesday morning.

“When people wake up from their New Year’s celebrations tomorrow, temperatures are going to be in the teens," he said.

The record for snowfall on New Year’s Day is 4.6 inches, and Bartos said if snow falls as planned, Wednesday could also be another record-breaking weather day in Anchorage.

Heavy snow is expected to start Tuesday afternoon on the Kenai Peninsula and move northward into Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley by late Tuesday. A blizzard warning was issued for Tuesday afternoon across the Western Kenai Peninsula, including Kenai, Soldotna, Homer and Cooper Landing. Southwest winds about 40 mph were expected to mix with the falling snow and cause reduced visibility and dangerous road conditions. The area is expected to see 7 to 9 inches of snow.

The weather service issued a special weather statement and said snow could create dangerous driving conditions Wednesday morning as the cold moves into the Susitna Valley and Copper Basin.