From Epic Cold to Blizzard Conditions in Alaska
By By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
February 02, 2012, 3:40:41 PM EST
As if some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in Alaska weren't enough, a blizzard is heading for the Final Frontier.
Heavy snow and wind gusts to near hurricane force will envelop the southern part of the state later today, including Alaska's largest city Anchorage, as a powerful storm roars into the Gulf of Alaska.
It's been an unbelievable winter for many in our nation's 49th state, while the rest of us in the Lower 48 are wondering when or if prolonged cold and wintry conditions will finally arrive.
After reaching into the 40 and 50 degree below zero territory several times this winter across the central and northern part of state, satellite and even an amateur weather station recorded the peak of the cold over the weekend as temperatures dropped to 70 degrees below zero outside of Fairbanks.
Moderating temperatures (relatively speaking) over the past few days is a sure sign of an approaching storm.
Snow from that storm, a powerhouse expected to push up Cook Inlet tonight, will continue to spread over southern Alaska today. While accumulations of up to a foot will be nothing extraordinary to long-time Alaskans, the wind accompanying it will make for dangerous traveling conditions.
Gusts as high as 60 to 80 mph, highest toward the coast, will make for white-out conditions through late tonight. Travel will be impossible for a time, with numerous flight cancelations and delays expected at Anchorage's Ted Stevens International Airport.
All of Kodiak Island and the immediate coast farther east will likely mix with rain at the peak of the storm, holding down snow accumulations.
Heavy surf will batter the shoreline as well, with waves of up to 25 feet high expected.
Following another, weaker storm along the southeastern coast late on Thursday and early on Friday, more tranquil conditions will take hold across the state. Temperatures even look to warm to near- or slightly above-normal levels for the first time in weeks.
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