Anchorage has its warmest New Year’s Eve on record, but snow and cold are on the way

Anchorage municipal workers move a firewood container on Westchester Lagoon on Tuesday, Dec. 31. 2019, in preparation for the downtown fireworks show. Record-setting temperatures left a layer of water on the icy lagoon. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage hit a new record Tuesday.

The city had its warmest New Year’s Eve with temperatures spiking to 46 degrees at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. That eclipsed the prior record set last year by 2 degrees.

In other parts of town Tuesday, temperatures soared into the low 50s. Snow melted. Water pooled on roadways. In some areas, it rained. Wind knocked out power.

But the warm, rainy weather won’t be sticking around: The weather service says a powerful cold front is moving up Cook Inlet and “will bring back winter in a hurry.”

Benjamin Bartos, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said he wants people headed out to celebrate New Year’s Eve to be ready for the snow to drop and temperatures to plummet.

“They’re going to be encountering a pretty abrupt switch from warm conditions and rain to snow and cold overnight,” he said.

The forecast is calling for “extremely cold Arctic air” and strong southwest winds to impact Kachemak Bay and the southern Kenai Peninsula Tuesday afternoon. By evening, heavy snow will begin in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley.

Bartos said parts of Anchorage could see up to 8 inches of snow Tuesday night. Snowfall will likely begin around 8 p.m. and “it’ll come in pretty heavy, pretty quick,” he said.

That will lead to slippery road conditions, the National Weather Service warns.

Winter weather will ring in the New Year with snow and colder temperatures. Please see www.weather.gov/afc for more information.

Posted by US National Weather Service Anchorage Alaska on Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Anchorage area is under a winter weather advisory from 9 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The weather service says temperatures in the single digits and teens will linger in Anchorage throughout the rest of the week. Temperatures are forecast to dip below zero during the weekend.