Damaging Blizzards to Reach 90 MPH in Alaska, Causing Impossible Whiteout Travel Conditions

Blizzard warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) for parts of Alaska from today through to the weekend.

A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibility will be likely, leading to whiteout conditions.

Travel in Parts of Alaska Forecast "Very Difficult to Impossible"

According to the NWS alerts, the northern and interior Seward Peninsula will see snow accumulations of up to 2 inches, with localized amounts up to 4 inches. Areas such as Buckland, Deering, Candle, Council, Haycock, Pilgrim Springs, Serpentine Hot Springs and Taylor are under warning from 1:00 p.m. local time today until 10:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Due to the blizzards, travel is forecast to be "very difficult to impossible" with winds of up to 50 mph. This will cause whiteout conditions and the formation of large snowdrifts.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. Alaska time yesterday, the graphic shows that an area of low pressure is moving southeast over Alaska through today. NOAA

The Chukchi Sea Coast—including Point Hope, Shishmaref, Kivalina and Espenberg—is under warning from 4:00 a.m. local time today until 7:00 a.m. Saturday due to high wind gusts and snow accumulations. According to the NWS, winds gusts could reach 60 to 80 mph—the strongest winds in north Kivalina—with 5 inches of snow forecast.

The alert warns that damage to power lines will be possible as well as to roofs and buildings due to the high winds. The strongest winds are expected from noon local time today through noon tomorrow afternoon. Conditions will be less severe at Shishmaref, says NWS.

For the Baldwin Peninsula and Selawik Valley, snow accumulations will range between 4 and 7 inches, says the weather service. A blizzard warning is in effect from 10:00 a.m. local time today until 7:00 a.m. Saturday, with travel conditions forecast to be very difficult to impossible. Wind gusting to 60 mph is expected though conditions are expected to be "less severe" inland.

90 MPH Winds to Hit Bering Strait

For residents in St Lawrence Island and the Bering Strait Coast, winds could reach up to 65 to 90 mph with total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches. The strongest winds are expected in the Bering Strait, so people planning to travel in this area should expect potential impossible travel conditions until 10:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. local time yesterday, the graphic shows that tomorrow will see more patches of snow move into the State, with blowing snow sweeping across the north. NOAA

For the western Arctic Coast, total snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches are expected, says the NWS, with winds reaching 65 to 85 mph. The strongest winds are forecast for Point Lay West from 6:00 a.m. today until 7:00 a.m. Saturday. Damage is also expected for this area due to high winds. For the northern Arctic Coast, wind gusts will likely reach 55 mph, according to the NWS. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are expected.

In northwestern Brooks Range—including Singiluk and Umiat—total snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are forecast, with localized amounts up to 12 inches, according to the alert. The warning for this area is in effect from 7:00 a.m. today for 48 hours.

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), winds that exceed 50 to 60 mph are considered to be "damaging". The website states that wind speeds up to 100 mph can produce a damage path extending for hundreds of miles.

People who are living in mobile homes are especially at risk from associated injury or death, says the NSSL, with anchored mobile homes being seriously damaged when winds gust over 80 mph.

For those planning to travel, call 511 for the latest road traffic updates.