Weather

Blizzard warning for blowing snow issued for Mat-Su, gusty winds forecast for Anchorage

PALMER — A blizzard warning goes into effect Thursday evening in the Matanuska Valley, with gusty winds also expected for Anchorage Friday, as another round of arctic air hits Southcentral Alaska.

The wind could make for a hazardous commute Friday morning, forecasters warned. Blizzards don’t necessarily involve new snow: this warning describes a ground blizzard from high winds blowing snow that’s already fallen, leaving piles along roadsides after three major storms blanketed Anchorage and Mat-Su.

Snow drifts were already problematic enough in Mat-Su that school officials enacted a 1-hour delay Thursday morning to allow crews to clear drifts blocking roads and school grounds and a greenhouse at the Wasilla Lowe’s store collapsed.

The greenhouse collapse Thursday afternoon was probably due to the weight of the snow on top of the structure, according to Ken Barkley, Matanuska-Susitna Borough emergency services director. No one was injured, Barkley said.

For the Matanuska Valley, the National Weather Service on Thursday morning warned of blowing snow and northeast winds from 35 to 50 mph, gusting to 65, from 8 p.m. Thursday until 8 p.m. Friday in Palmer, Wasilla, Sutton and Chickaloon.

“Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility,” the agency said. “The hazardous conditions could impact the Friday morning commute. Very strong winds could cause extensive tree damage and cause power outages. Cold wind chills as low as 30 below zero could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.”

The Weather Service also warned of gusty northerly winds with blowing and drifting snow starting Friday morning in Anchorage and the western Kenai Peninsula.

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In the Anchorage Bowl, winds were expected to peak Friday afternoon before diminishing late Friday night into Saturday, the Weather Service said.

“Visibilities may be reduced in blowing snow. The combination of wind and cold temperatures may also result in wind chill values between 10 and 20 below zero through Saturday,” a special weather statement said. “Please use caution when traveling.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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