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Anchorage breaks snow record for New Year’s Day following the warmest Dec. 31 on record

Snowfall overnight transformed Southcentral Alaska from an icy, slushy mess to a snow-laden landscape, Jan 1, 2020. Spruce trees are loaded with snow in Eagle River valley, Wednesday morning. (Anne Raup / ADN)

Anchorage rang in the new year with record-breaking snowfall and warmth, as temperatures tumbled on Tuesday evening and precipitation ticked up throughout the night.

It was the snowiest New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day combined on record for Anchorage, with 9.5 inches of snow by Wednesday afternoon, according to meteorologist Michael Vuotto at the National Weather Service in Anchorage. The snow totals broke the previous record set during the 1963-64 New Year’s, which measured 7.2 inches of snow.

The snowfall came after Anchorage broke the daily record for warmest Dec. 31, with temperatures at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport measuring 46 degrees. That broke a previous record that was set in 2018, at 44 degrees for the final day of the year.

Anchorage also saw the third snowiest New Year’s Eve on record, tied with 1959 at 3.3 inches of snow. But after the clock struck midnight, snow accumulation increased, totaling at 6.2 inches for New Year’s Day and leaping past the previous record of 4.6 inches set in 1964.

Record temperatures and snowfall

Roads were wet with melting snow on Tuesday afternoon, before temperatures fell below freezing by 7 p.m., Vuotto said, with a rapid snap cold.

“So that allowed for snow to quickly start piling up on the roads and allowed the icy conditions to develop,” Vuotto said.

Blizzard conditions closed the Seward Highway between Indian and the Hope turnoff on Wednesday morning before eventually reopening that afternoon. Girdwood was cut off from the highway after seeing 21 inches of snow.

Driving on the Glenn Highway after the New Years snow was challenging due to slick roads and blowing snow. (Anne Raup / ADN)

But the snow has tapered off, and there isn’t any more in the weekend forecast, Vuotto said. The Anchorage area can expect temperatures in the lower teens on Thursday and then drop to the single digits by Friday. Temperatures could sink below zero on Friday evening Vuotto said, and weekend temperatures could stay in the single digits.

Regional snow totals from the storm:

  • Girdwood - 21 inches
  • Upper Hillside - 12 inches
  • Upper Potter Marsh 11.8 inches
  • Prospect Heights - 10.5 inches
  • Northeast Anchorage - 9.3 inches
  • Mountain View - 8.7 inches
  • Eagle River - 8.5 inches
  • West Anchorage - 8.5 inches
  • Government Hill - 7 inches
  • Palmer - 5.1 inches
  • Sutton - 4 inches
  • Soldotna - 3 inches

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