Major winter storm to hit northwest arctic this weekend

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Another major winter storm is expected over the Northwest Arctic Coast and North Slope starting Sunday.

Heavy snowfall and strong winds are likely to hit communities in Utqiagvik to the west, the National Weather Service said Thursday afternoon. However, the storm will affect a larger area from Point Hope and Wainwright to Prudhoe Bay and Kaktovik, and as far inland as Anaktuvuk Pass.

“We’re looking at a fair amount of snow coming across Alaska, a foot in some places,” Weather Service meteorologist Joe Kryston said. He said in communities on the North Slope and Northwestern Arctic, “there will be local blowing snow and blizzard conditions, but nothing that residents have never seen before.”

The storm is expected to develop in the Bering Sea on Saturday, posing a threat to coastal communities from Sunday until early next week, according to the weather service. The agency predicted easterly winds gusting to 50 mph along the northwestern Arctic coast.

Kryston said this “stronger storm with a lot of humidity” on Sunday would follow a weaker storm in the area on Saturday. He said coastal communities west of Utqiagvik such as Point Hope and Wainwright “view between 8 and 9 inches” of snow, while the Kotzebue area could see as much as 14 inches.

Two weeks ago, the Northwestern Arctic and North Slope regions experienced a major storm that pushed back ice cover along the coast and cut power to some communities.

“As far as the wind is concerned, it seems a little less (than the most recent storm),” Kryston said of what residents can expect this weekend. “I don’t see it pushing the ice. We don’t expect coastal flooding either.”

Still, weather specialists have recommended taking precautions while on vacation.

“Along the coast it would be about securing loose objects, boats and stuff like that, any kind of property,” Kryston said. “It will be difficult to move around in the middle of the storm, walking around will be difficult.”

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