Winter storm and high wind warning in effect through Sunday, short break before Christmas storm moves in

Heavy snow out the road near Haines. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities.

By Jasz Garrett on Nov. 23, 2023, at 6:38 p.m.

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – A winter storm watch was issued Friday for the Panhandle. The storm moved into the Gulf on Friday night. The Haines Border and White Pass are experiencing heavy snowfall on Saturday with travel impacted.

As of Friday evening, a winter storm warning went into effect for Skagway and Haines. The total expected snow accumulations are 6 to 20 inches along the Klondike Highway and Haines Highway. As of Saturday evening, the National Weather Service Juneau received a report of 16 inches of snow in Haines near Skyline Drive. The Department of Transportation also reports a significant amount of snow on the highway. 8 inches of snow was reported in Skagway Saturday evening.

Haines and Skagway are receiving snow, while the Southern region of the panhandle experiences strong winds and rain. High wind warnings are in effect for Sitka, Prince of Wales Island, and Ketchikan. Southeast winds are expected to be 25-35 mph, with gusts reaching 65 mph possibly near the Dixon Entrance. The strongest winds escalated Saturday morning and are expected to increase Saturday night into Sunday morning.

At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, the National Weather Service Juneau received reports of an 85 mph wind gust at the Hydaburg Seaplane base. At 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, meteorologist Spencer Fielding confirmed that this is their highest report of wind, but he expects the winds to continue through the night.

The heavy snowfall and strong winds are expected to decrease Sunday morning. There will be a short break until the next front moves through early Monday morning. Fielding said Southeast could even experience more wind Sunday night. The front will bring storm-force winds, 50 knots or greater up through the outside waters along the outer coast.

“That storm will really be our Christmas Day storm as well,” Fielding said.

He added that they are experiencing an internet outage which is impacting their ability to update the NWSJ website. He said it’s best to check their social media in the meantime.