Alaska issues nation’s first Blizzard Warning of season as winter gets jump start

Blizzard conditions including 60 mph winds are possible through Saturday night for the northeast Arctic Coast in Alaska.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Autumn is not quite half over, but already we have our first true sign of winter as more than 6,000 people in Alaska are under the nation's first Blizzard Warning of the season.

It's been 182 days since the U.S. last had a Blizzard Warning – it was issued in eastern Montana. That national streak ends this week for remote areas along Alaska's Arctic Coast. 

The National Weather Service in Fairbanks issued a Blizzard Warning that takes effect on Friday morning for the eastern Beaufort Sea Coast, including Point Thompson and Kaktovik. 

Blizzard conditions, including 60 mph winds, are possible through Saturday night through the area. The NWS warns the 6,600 located there to stay off the roads Friday and Saturday with possible whiteout conditions. 

"Travel will be very difficult," forecasters with the NWS said. "Areas of blowing snow will reduce visibility to one-quarter mile or less. Snow drifts will develop."

Between 3 and 5 inches of snow is forecast to fall on Thursday before strong winds further reduce visibility.

The polar bears that frequent the nearby Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will need to take note too.

Winter Weather Advisories are also in place for high elevations, including summits along the Steese, Elliot and Dalton Highways from Friday morning into Saturday. The forecast includes up to 4 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 35 mph. 


Fairbanks has already had plenty of snow in October, with more than 7 inches falling during the first half of the month. 

The blizzard-like conditions come just in time for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center Winter 2023-2024 Outlook. The outlook includes NOAA predictions for meteorological winter, December through February. NOAA forecasters are predicting wetter-than-average conditions for northern Alaska and warmer-than-average conditions for the whole state this winter.