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Potent winter storm takes aim for western Interior Alaska

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Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 12:28 pm | Updated: 11:55 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for western Interior Alaska on Friday for a storm that is expected to dump snow and freezing rain in some areas of the lower Koyukuk and middle Yukon valleys.

The weather service is forecasting 3 to 6 inches of snow and one-half inch of ice accumulation as a result of freezing rain in the villages of Galena, Nulato, Huslia, Kaltag, Ruby and Koyukuk.

“Some areas could get one-half to an inch of freezing rain, which takes down power lines and trees,” meteorologist Jim Brader at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks said. “That much freezing rain in the Interior is rare.”

Fairbanks is expected to get 2 to 3 inches of snow and Brader said the chance of freezing rain falling in the Golden Heart City is “very low.”

“We’re expecting snow here,” Brader said. “If we get any (freezing rain) it would be a freezing drizzle.”

The snow was expected to start falling sometime after midnight on Friday and continue through most of Saturday and possibly into Sunday, he said.

It was raining in Southwest Alaska on Friday, Brader said. Almost one-half inch of rain had fallen in Bethel as of noon and McGrath had “several” inches of snow during the same time.

“We expect it to turn over to freezing rain later today,” Brader said of the snow falling in McGrath.

Areas that don’t get freezing rain will likely get heavy snow, he said.

The storm is being produced by a strong low-pressure system in Bristol Bay, Brader said.

“It’s not a Pineapple Express but it’s bringing up subtropical moisture from the North Pacific,” he said.

The good news is temperatures will warm up considerably this weekend in Fairbanks from what they were during the week. Highs on Saturday and Sunday are expected to be near 20 degrees, Brader said.

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