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Storm flirts with area

System likely to bring rain rather than snow

Posted: October 26, 2011 - 8:37am

A low-pressure system that hit Kodiak Island on Tuesday promised to leave Anchorage with its first measurable snowfall of the winter season, but the Kenai Peninsula with likely just rain in the lower areas through the next few days.

Dave Stricklan, a hydro-meteorological technician with the National Weather Service, said the eastern bound system had swept up from the Aleutian Chains and is headed along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska.

"You're going to see rain pretty much the rest of the day and through the night," Stricklan said Tuesday afternoon. "It looks like you might get some snow inland at higher elevations."

If snow does land in the mid- to low-land areas, chances are it won't be more than an inch, Stricklan said.

"That moisture is going to hit you guys first and we are going to get the rest of it up here in Anchorage so nothing is going to be moving down," Stricklan said. "That cold air is going to filter in behind the low pressure system and that's why we (in Anchorage) are going to see some snow later tonight."

However, three to six inches of snow can be expected in higher elevations on the Peninsula.

"The farther inland you go and the higher you go, the more snow you are going to get," Stricklan said.

Area lows are expected to gradually rise from 23 degrees to about 29 through the week while highs are expected to remain in the 40 degree frame.

Residents traveling along the Seward Highway on Tuesday likely noticed several inches of snow on the ground along with the typical winter driving conditions.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said motorists should continue to watch for wind, snow and icy roads if they are travelling, specifically along Turnagain Pass.

"If they are planning on going up or down the Seward Highway, people should make sure their cars are prepared for winter driving conditions and they are in the mood to practice their best driving behaviors and patience because traffic is down to 30 miles per hour in some locations," she said Tuesday morning.

No crashes on the pass had been reported as of 6:30 p.m., Peters said, noting she had heard semi trucks were stopping to put on chains or wait out the weather.

"It is that time of the year -- people should always be prepared for adverse driving conditions this time of year in Alaska," Peters said.

The weather service also issued a winter weather advisory for the Fairbanks area, calling for up to five inches of snow through today.

Forecasters expected northern winds to die down Tuesday and the system to move through quickly overnight leaving the sky partly cloudy today on the Central Peninsula. But rain will be the area's common theme throughout the week, Stricklan noted.

"There is more on the way," he said of the heavy moisture.

Tuesday's system also drenched the eastern Kenai Peninsula with rain and blew gusts between 60 and 80 miles per hour in places like Seward, Whitter, Girdwood and Moose Pass. Those gusts, and a National Weather Service wind advisory for the area, had both expired as of Tuesday afternoon.

However, an urban and small stream flood advisory was issued for western Prince William Sound including Seward, Hope and Girdwood and will continue through this morning, according to the weather service's website.

"We have got quite a bit of rainfall that occurred early (Tuesday) morning and basically ... there (are) quite a bit of rapidly rising stream levels especially through (Tuesday) afternoon with it continuing to rain and snow up high," Stricklan said.

Stricklan said residents living in areas prone to flooding should stay abreast of water levels through the week as the system left some areas with up to five inches of rain.

"If they live near a stream or something they need to keep an eye on it because it can fluctuate pretty fast," he said.

Tom Boren, janitor at the Sea Bean coffee shop in Seward, said he thought the weather was typical for the time of year.

"It's been pouring," he said. "We have gotten about two and a half inches yesterday and probably that much again today."

Although it was a good day for a hot coffee or warm drink otherwise, Boren said foot traffic was a little slow.

"There was not a lot of people moving around," he said with a laugh.

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