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High winds and some snow expected in the Anchorage area ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday

A squall moves in front of O'Malley Peak on Wednesday morning, Oct. 14, 2020. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Some very windy weather is headed for Anchorage ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, and multiple storms are set to impact Southcentral Alaska in the coming week.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for Anchorage, Eagle River, Indian and Eklutna starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday and ending at 4 p.m. Gusts could reach up to 80 mph and winds from 40 to 60 mph are expected.

The storm could cause power outages, damage property and move loose debris, and it will make traveling difficult, according to the warning. The weather service urged people to secure loose objects and prepare for the possibility of power outages, and advised caution while driving.

“It’s a strong storm. The load is going to come right over the area,” said Pam Szatanek, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Anchorage office.

The winds are likely to be strongest along Turnagain Arm and in Anchorage’s upper Hillside area, Szatanek said.

“Not only is it a strong storm. But the way the topography is in the area, it enhances it,” Szatanek said.

Winds will likely intensify during late morning and early afternoon Wednesday, according to the warning.

“It’s going to line up with the terrain, and then we’ve got the jet overhead and all those together, it makes the ingredients for a big wind event,” Szatanek said.

Lower elevations near the mountains, including the lower Hillside, can expect peak gusts of 40 to 50 mph Wednesday afternoon. Other areas of Anchorage may experience gusts of 20 to 35 mph. Snow is also likely to accumulate, from about 1 to 3 inches, Szatanek said.

“The storm itself is pretty big. It’s producing a lot of really gusty winds” in the eastern Bering Sea, around Western Alaska, Szatanek said Tuesday evening. “So we’re confident that this is going to bring winds also to the Anchorage area.”

Through the weekend, a series of storms will hit Southcentral Alaska, bringing snow, wind and rain to the area and likely affecting holiday travel, according to a National Weather Service report. Storms will affect the Anchorage Bowl, Mat-Su and the Western Kenai Peninsula.

The first storm will hit the Kenai Peninsula with rain Wednesday morning and move north into Anchorage and the Mat-Su by the afternoon, bringing in the high winds.

Afternoon temperatures may reach into the mid- to upper 30s, causing snowmelt and a possible mix of rain and snow precipitation, which will likely change to snow in Anchorage and Mat-Su in the evening.

Another storm could bring colder temperatures and more snow to Southcentral Alaska late Thursday night, beginning over the Kenai Peninsula and moving north Friday.

“Variation in temperature, wind, and precipitation type and accumulation over high terrain may result in dangerous avalanche conditions,” the weather service report said.