Inches of snow followed by rain hit the central Kenai Peninsula this week as a low-pressure system moved north up Prince William Sound and struck much of Southcentral Alaska.
A winter weather advisory was first issued by the National Weather Service for Tuesday night, warning of around an inch of “snow and blowing snow.” That night, Homer Electric Association reported a power outage in Nikiski that had around 1,300 members without power. Outages were restored through the night, with the final outages being resolved around 6:30 a.m.
Around 1 p.m. Wednesday, snow was still coming down in Kenai — far exceeding the forecast inch. National Weather Service Meteorologist Brandon Lawson explained that the low-pressure system causing the precipitation was “a little bit different” than most, which resulted in disagreements within prediction models and uncertainty in forecasts.
The service had expected warm temperatures to convert the snow into rain overnight.
The big questions, Lawson said, were whether or not temperatures warm, by how much, and what the resulting precipitation is. After he spoke, warming temperatures in Kenai resulted in the expected rain, but a weather advisory was in effect until Thursday morning heralding snow of up to 8 inches and “slippery road conditions.”
This being an El Niño year, Lawson said the general expectation is for temperatures to be “above normal,” especially compared to the two previous winters, which were considered La Niña years. That above normal doesn’t necessarily mean warm, but it may point toward the opportunities for freezing rain and recorded temperatures hovering at or around freezing.
For updated forecast information and weather advisories, visit weather.gov/afc.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.