Arctic air hitting Anchorage ‘like a freight train,’ with -25 F wind chill

Fresh snow April 8, 2021 on a pair of pickups in East Anchorage
Fresh snow April 8, 2021 on a pair of pickups in East Anchorage (Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media)

If you thought winter was over in Anchorage, the National Weather Service has some bad news for you.

Unseasonably cold air swept into Alaska’s largest city Thursday, and forecasters expect it to stay through the weekend.

The weather service is warning of wind chills as low as minus 25 degrees. There are also high wind warnings in effect for the Whittier and Seward areas.

The cold is plunging south into Alaska all the way from the North Pole, pushing a band of snow through Southcentral, said weather service meteorologist Ben Bartos.

“And with that, we’ll have some very strong winds barreling through the area,” Bartos said. “It’s going to hit us like a freight train, if you will.”

The snow is expected to taper off midday Thursday, Bartos said, with northerly winds picking up to 30 mph and gusting to as high as 50 mph. Winds are forecasted to die down Friday, with the possibility of record low temperatures to follow in Anchorage.

The coldest areas will be East Anchorage and the base of the Hillside, at between 5 and 10 below zero, Bartos said.

“An Arctic blast of air like this, in basically the second week of April now, is highly unusual,” Bartos said. “This is something we’d expect in January or something like that. So it’s pretty impressive to see this cold of an air mass work its way south this time of year.”

While Bartos said he’s heard from many Anchorage residents that they’re ready for winter to be over, he said the cold should be short-lived: Temperatures in Anchorage are expected to return to the low 40s by Monday.

Meanwhile, consistently below-freezing temperatures and steady snowfall this winter in Anchorage led to a record snow depth Thursday, setting a new mark for this late in the season: 24 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at cgrove@alaskapublic.org.

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