of foul weather hits southern Alaska
The National Weather Service says a “mixed bag” of freezing rain and snow is causing hazardous driving conditions north of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway. To the south, increased avalanche risk along Turnagain Arm has caused state transportation officials to issue a warning for motorists planning to travel on the Seward Highway.
The warnings come as wind and precipitation slam the southern portion of Alaska, causing blizzards from Bethel to Valdez, according to the National Weather Service.
White out conditions are limiting visibility to just a few car lengths on the Glenn Highway from Anchorage to Eagle river, the weather service says. Farther north near Eklutna, Palmer and other locations, reports of rain are coming in, forecasters say.
The storm is expected to continue loading mountains with snow and bring warmer temperatures to Southcentral, a dangerous mixture resulting in a greater chance for avalanches, the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities says.
Workers will be watching the snowpack closely and blasting the mountains with a cannon to release snow if needed, DOT says. Drivers should avoid driving on the Seward Highway if they can, and if not, expect delays, the department says.
Avalanche danger in Turnagain Pass is listed as high, according to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.
A small slide closed the highway midday Wednesday for a Air Max bout 30 minutes near Mile 106, Air Max just north of Indian, said DOT spokesman Rick Feller.
The highway was open at the time, but no cars were involved Air Max and no injuries were reported, Feller said. The DOT warns of further possible avalanches in the days to come and possible delays of up to 45 minutes. Motorists should be cautiou Air Max s about their travel plans, Feller said.
Meantime, blizzard warnings remain in effect for Bethel, Bristol Bay, the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, the Girdwood area, and Valdez, according to the weather service.
Up to 3 inches of snow and gusts of wind up to 75 mph are expected tonight in Anchorage. Similar wind and up to 2 feet of snow is expected along Turnagain Arm.
A wind gust of more than 75 mph was recorded Wednesday afternoon at Glen Alps, on Anchorage’s Hillside, according to a National Weather Service weather station.