Strong winds and spring snow sweep into Southcentral Alaska

Mar. 30—Parts of Southcentral Alaska can continue to expect strong winds and a moderate amount of snowfall though Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

A storm system was expected to bring southeast winds of 40 to 50 mph and gusts up to 75 mph on the Anchorage Hillside, and winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph in the Anchorage Bowl on Saturday, the weather service said.

A high wind warning remains in effect through 10 a.m. Sunday for Anchorage and western Turnagain Arm, as the weather service described a second round of strong winds likely to develop after midnight into Sunday morning.

Around an inch of snow was forecast overnight for the Anchorage Bowl and lower elevations in the Mat-Su. Along the Anchorage Hillside, up to 3 inches were possible; and in Hatcher Pass, between 3 and 6 inches of snow were expected to fall by Sunday morning, according to Marian Baker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

The snowfall was expected to begin late Saturday night and continue into Sunday and due to high winds would be blowing around, creating reduced visibility and challenging travel conditions, Baker said. Higher snow totals were forecast from Girdwood south to the eastern Kenai Peninsula.

At Hatcher Pass, the strong winds and new snow Saturday were expected to bring increased avalanche risk by Sunday morning, according to the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center, which described the potential for a foot or more of additional snowfall Sunday into Monday.

Farther south at Turnagain Pass, the risk of natural and human-triggered avalanches was considered high in upper elevations Saturday due to strong winds and heavy snowfall, according to the avalanche forecast issued by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

"Strong winds and heavy snowfall will rapidly increase the avalanche danger throughout the day. Coastal areas like Portage and Placer could receive up to 2-3′ of new snow, which is very likely to cause large natural avalanches," the center wrote in a social media post Saturday. "We recommend taking a close look at how well the new snow is bonding to the old snow surface and using conservative decision-making today."

Closer to Valdez, a winter weather advisory for significant snowfall and blowing snow was in place for Thompson Pass, and moderate to heavy snow was forecast in the Copper River Basin.