Half a foot of snow likely through tomorrow night
Biting cold!!!! That's one way to describe the weather this morning, as many locations woke up with lows hovering at or below zero and wind chills near 20 below. The coldest spot in the Anchorage Bowl was JBER, which officially hit -18 below zero. The warmer spots were to our south, where an incoming storm was not only pushing in warmer air, but another round of snow to most of Southcentral.
The current picture has high pressure over Siberia continuing to funnel in cold air to parts of the state. Air temperatures have been hovering anywhere form -40 to -30 below zero and will continue to remain on the frigidly cold spot for the foreseeable future. That cold air, while moderating, has been filtering into Southcentral. However warmer air is pushing in from the South ahead of our next storm system, which will lead to rising temperatures through the night. For most of the day, temperatures have held steady near 6 degrees, but are expected to slowly rise into the teens overnight into Saturday.
This comes as another low pressure system is strengthening near Kodiak and will push in more snow for Southcentral, which will only add to the snow we've already seen since Christmas Day. Despite the warmer air moving in from the south, it will still stay cold from the surface aloft, which will yield higher snowfall totals. Because of this, snow totals will bump up across the region, with many areas once again seeing the dry powdery snow that is still blanketing the ground across the region.
Winter weather advisories and Blizzard warnings have already been issued for parts of the Southcentral in anticipation for the storm, with the hardest hit areas being Kodiak and northeastern portions of Prince William Sound. It's this areas that could see snow totals approaching nearly a foot. Elsewhere, the snowfall totals will differ depending on the track of the low.
A more westerly track is the ideal set-up and most likely one to occur for a widespread snowfall event across Southcentral. This would include the Anchorage Bowl, valley, and all of the Kenai. With a more westerly track, this will put the heaviest snow on the northwestern flank of the snowbands right over the region. It's here where we could see 1 to 3 inches of snow through the night into tomorrow morning an additional 2-4 inches of snow Saturday afternoon into the night. This scenario would also lead to more blowing snow across the region, as the fresh snow and breezy winds we continue to see will lead to reduced visibility. More model consensus continues to push for a more westerly track, which is favorable due to the current positioning of the low and the upper level pattern in path of the storm. The Valley looks to remain too far north to receive significant snowfall and will likely only see 2-4" of snowfall totals into Saturday night. Willow and Talkeetna could see upwards of an 1 to an 1.5 inches of snow.
Scenario 2, which is the least likely of the two, would be a more easterly track. While a few outlying models do show this, the current low which is west of previous model runs would suggest this not being the case. However, should it happen Anchorage would see lower snowfall totals in the 1-3" range, which would still be significant considering the snow we've already seen. Visibility issues with this storm won't be much of a problem due to the fact that the heaviest snow will be farther south and east. However, blowing snow will still occur due to the breezy winds we continue to see and the soft powder that is already on the ground. The Valley wouldn't see much snow with this scenario, with likely only 1-2" of snowfall in Palmer and Wasilla, with only flurries near Willow and Talkeetna.
Either scenario still brings snow into Southcentral, but the track will shift the numbers either up or down. As mentioned above scenario 1 seems more likely due to the more westward initiation of the low and current model runs pointing to a westward track to account for that. This means that should we see an additional 4-8" of snowfall, with localized heavier amounts, that many of us will have seen nearly 15 inches of snowfall dating back to Christmas Eve.
If you think that's too much snow, or if you don't, more storms are in the forecast. One arrives on the heels of the current storm late Saturday into Sunday, with a final push of moisture Sunday night into Monday.
A look ahead to New Years Eve keeps us dry with a slight chance for flurries in the forecast and lows in the teens. The bitter cold returns just in time for the new year, with the potential for more biting cold into the end of next week.