Weather

Ski areas close Monday as heavy winds and rain move into Southcentral Alaska

Three ski areas closed Monday as strong winds and a mixture of rain and snow moved into Southcentral Alaska.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning Sunday that stretched from the Girdwood area toward Seward and along the coast of the Kenai Peninsula. East winds of 35 to 55 mph were expected until about 6 p.m. Monday and gusts could reach 80 mph throughout the day.

Avalanche danger was high at all terrain levels Monday, according to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. Snow and rain have been falling throughout the last several days in Turnagain Pass and combined with the additional precipitation Monday, large natural and human triggered avalanches are likely, the forecast said.

Alyeska Resort announced early Monday that all lifts would be closed throughout the day. The resort, in Girdwood, reported by 8:45 a.m. that there had been about 9 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours.

Arctic Valley Ski Area, which lies about 10 miles from downtown Anchorage, announced Sunday night that operations would be closed Monday because of the weather. Roughly 4 to 6 inches of new snow was expected in the area Monday.

Hilltop Ski Area opened at 9 a.m. Monday but announced just after 11 a.m. that the slopes would be closing early due to deteriorating conditions. The ski area, which is located in Anchorage’s Far North Bicentennial Park, will reopen at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

As the storm continues to move into the area Monday, the weather service warned that driving could be challenging along the Seward Highway. The state Department of Transportation described road conditions as fair through the Turnagain Arm Monday afternoon, according to the online roadmap. Conditions worsened on the Seward Highway past the Hope turnoff and the department described roads as being packed with snow, rough icy patches and slush.

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