The Arctic Sounder

North Slope facilities close as the region is battered by wind gusts

North Slope Borough, tribal and city offices closed Thursday because of severe winds and snow conditions.

Blizzard conditions with low visibility, winds gusting as high as 75 mph and around 2 inches of snowfall battered Alaska’s northwest Arctic coast and northern Arctic coast Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

“We have blizzard warnings basically from Barter Island all the way west to Point Hope,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Erin Billings. “And we’re seeing lots of reduced visibility of a quarter mile and below at a lot of locations,” including Atqasuk, Deadhorse and Point Lay.

The winds were the strongest — above 75 mph — around Prudhoe Bay, Billings said. The peak in Utqiagvik as of Thursday afternoon has been 71 mph.

“The winds are going to stay strong through this evening and tonight,” Billings said Thursday.

North Slope Borough Mayor Josiah Patkotak declared Nov. 9 a severe weather day for Utqiagvik. The City of Utqiagvik closed its office around 1:30 p.m.

“We recognize that safety and well-being are of paramount importance, which is why this decision has been to ensure the welfare of our staff and customers,” city officials said.


FYI - City Closure

Posted by City of Utqiagvik on Thursday, November 9, 2023

On Friday, winds are expected to reach 25 to 40 mph, and overall conditions are forecast to improve, Billings said.

“We’ll still see some snow showers out there but we’re not expecting visibility to be quite as low as we are (seeing) today,” she said.

Areas of the Northwest Arctic and western Brooks Range are expected to see a storm with heavy snowfall from late Saturday into late Sunday night.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.