Anchorage schools close again as 3rd major storm hits

A double row of cars driving in the dark as heavy snow falls.
Heavy traffic on the Glenn Highway northbound on Wednesday evening, Dec. 14, 2022. (Alaska Public Media/Matt Faubion)

Anchorage and Mat-Su Borough schools and state offices are closed Thursday after a third major winter storm this month coated the area with snow overnight Wednesday.

The school closures were announced Wednesday night due to current and expected poor road conditions, with the Mat-Su Borough declaring a third remote learning day due to the latest storm. Both districts plan to make decisions about canceling after-school activities later Thursday morning.

In addition to Anchorage and Mat-Su state office closures, both the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University closed their Anchorage campuses for the day. People Mover bus service was also canceled for the day.

Shaun Baines, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in West Anchorage, said the storm arrived in town shortly after Wednesday’s evening commute as expected.

Snowfall in Anchorage and the Mat-Su stopped slightly earlier than expected Thursday morning. The latest storm’s tally joins totals from winter storms on Dec. 6 and Sunday, which saw Anchorage break a liquid precipitation record set in 1989.

“In the past 11 days, we’ve had 41.1 inches of snow which, which – is a lot for Anchorage,” Baines said.

Snow totals from other Anchorage and Mat-Su locations were still pending Thursday morning, but forecasters expected those amounts to be on target at 6 to 12 inches overnight.

Winter storm warnings are in effect for Valdez and the Copper River basin through noon and 3 p.m. Thursday as the storm moves east. However, weather conditions may give Anchorage residents a breather from shoveling snow in the weeks before Christmas.

“There’s going to be a pretty strong ridge of high pressure building over mainland Alaska, and that’s what’s going to protect us from any of the storms,” Baines said.

Temperatures are expected to fall to subzero inland from Anchorage, according to Baines. The same conditions will also leave warm, wet air over the Aleutians, with temperatures there in the 40s expected in coming days.

Alaska Public Media

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