Chinook winds turn up heat across Southcentral Alaska

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Jan. 23—Chinook winds blew through Southcentral Alaska on Friday and Saturday, bringing unseasonably warm weather, slush, ice and rain to Anchorage and surrounding areas.

Mild temperatures were likely to continue throughout the weekend and into Monday, but temperatures would likely drop back down to below freezing by Tuesday, according to Michael Vulotto, an Anchorage meteorologist. Some rain and snow were also possible over the next few days.

"The melting of the snow is basically going to continue," he said, adding that Sunday and Monday afternoon temperatures in Anchorage of around 40 degrees were likely, while cooler weather was expected through most of the week.

Chinooks occur when rivers of warm air flow over mountain ranges and warm up as they compress. The winds were at their peak Friday evening, and continued into Saturday, causing snowmelt and roads that turned to ice across Anchorage, Vulotto said.

Strong winds were likely along the Turnagain Arm, according to a high wind watch in place for Anchorage, Eagle River, Indian and Eklutna beginning Sunday evening and continuing into Monday morning. Southeast winds with gusts up 75 mph were possible, Vulotto said.

Dangerous avalanche conditions remained in place Saturday across Southcentral Alaska, according to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center's website that was last updated Saturday morning. Avalanche danger was "considerable" above 2,500 feet, and "moderate" below 2,500 feet.

While most major roadways in Anchorage were relatively clear by Saturday afternoon, less-traveled side streets and residential neighborhoods were coated in layers of ice, and "a lot more slippery than the more heavily traveled areas," according to Vulotto.

In at least one East Anchorage neighborhood, residents put on ice skates and used their street as a rink.

Rain showers continued through the day. At Westchester Lagoon, a brief, heavy rain filled giant puddles across the lake that didn't deter skaters.

On Friday, at least one temperature record was broken. Around 9:30 p.m. on Friday evening at Ted Stevens International Airport, a temperature reading showed 47 degrees — a record high that had last been set in 2014, when it was 45 degrees, Vulotto said.

At Thunderbird Falls in Anchorage, the temperature that evening had risen to 55 degrees, and at Merrill Field, it got up to 52 degrees.

Although those temperatures were unseasonably high, Chinooks are relatively common around this time of year, Vulotto said.

"It's kind of unusual to actually not get one in January, or somewhere around this time of year, across Southern Alaska," he said.

Daily News photographer Emily Mesner contributed to this story.