Update, 12:30 p.m. Sunday: An unusually strong storm for this time of year was bringing rain and heavy winds to parts of Southcentral Alaska on Sunday.
In the Prince William Sound area, wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph were reported, said Aviva Braun, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Anchorage. Forecasters expected the strongest winds Sunday from the Turnagain Arm area through Portage; in the lower Knik Arm near Palmer and Wasilla; and in the Copper River Basin.
In particularly exposed areas, windy conditions could affect drivers. On the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm, south of Anchorage, “we just have heavy rainfall and gusty winds in the forecast, which could lead to some pulling along the road,” Braun said.
Farther inland, in areas sheltered by the mountains, winds were dropping into the 20 to 30 mph range, she said. In the southern portion of Anchorage, southeasterly winds were expected to pick up Sunday evening.
Windy and rainy conditions were forecast to taper off Monday, Braun said.
A storm that forecasters are describing as unusually strong for this time of year is on track to bring rain and heavy winds to parts of Anchorage as well as the eastern Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak this weekend.
“What we have is a pretty well-developed low center that’s moving up along the Alaska Peninsula, and bringing along some heavier rains and gustier winds,” said Michael Kutz, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Anchorage office. “It’s going to be some pretty significant weather.”
Between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, the “unseasonably strong storm” will bring widespread heavy rain and strong easterly winds with gusts as high as 60 mph to parts of southern Alaska, according to a special weather statement issued by the National Weather Service’s Anchorage office Saturday.
“Normally for this time of year, we would see a lot more sunshine, less rain, less wind,” Kutz said. “We’re still in our transition phase coming from winter to summer.”
On Anchorage’s Upper Hillside winds up to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph were likely late Sunday morning through the afternoon, the weather service said in the statement.
“It’ll still get a little breezy down here in the Anchorage Bowl, but the worst of this stuff is going to be up in the hills,” Kutz said.
The eastern Kenai Peninsula can expect to see winds between 15 and 30 mph and gusts to 45 mph with the strongest gusts likely Sunday morning. In Portage Valley and along eastern Turnagain Arm, gusts up to 60 mph were possible Sunday morning.
The National Weather Service urged Seward Highway drivers in the Turnagain Arm area to use caution, especially in higher-profile vehicles, due to the potential for wind gusts to be “very strong and erratic” from Saturday night through Sunday.
Two inches of rain or more was likely for Whittier and Portage, with more moderate rainfall expected in surrounding areas, the weather service said.
On Kodiak Island, winds between 25 and 40 mph and gusts up to 55 mph were expected Saturday evening, with moderate to heavy rainfall overnight.
The storm system will also bring strong winds and rain to the east side of the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay from Saturday night into Sunday.
“So all the little villages like Chignik, Perryville, they’re going to see some heavier rain, and it’s also spreading down through the passes, so places like Iliamna are getting some heavy rain down there,” Kutz said.