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Cuddle up, Alaska: Winter weather alerts issued across the state

Katie Medred

While the Northeastern United States is being blanketed by a fresh coat of winter white -- and parts of it buried in deep drifts -- many areas of Alaska are facing warnings and advisories of their own this weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued two weather advisories -- one for the North Slope, including Barrow, and one for Southcenteral, including the Susitna Valley into the Interior -- and has issued six blizzard or high wind warnings that affect much of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, including Bethel; some of the Norton Sound and Bering Strait coast, including Saint Paul and St. Lawrence Islands; the Western Aleutian Islands; Western Prince William Sound and Anchorage.

So what does it all mean? According to NWS meteorologist Andy Dickson it means snow is on its way ... sort of.

"The coastal areas are going to get the snow, while the Interior will stay mostly dry." Dickson said Saturday, "(Right now) Cordova is rain, but Valdez is snow. Thompson Pass could get as much as 3 feet in the next 48 hours."

Dickson expects that, for Southcentral at least, snow accumulation will keep rolling and put the area back on the track for yearly snowfall averages.

"We're getting into a pretty snowy pattern this week," he said, "Really we're only 9.4 inches below normal (for snow fall) for today's date. I think because we had such a great year last year that it feels much worse than it is ... but expect to close that (accumulation) gap by this time next week, for Anchorage."

Below are some of the most pressing weekend warnings, advisories and predictions for the more populated parts of the state. For more of the weather in your area, visit the National Weather Service.

Anchorage and Western Prince William Sound are under a high wind warning, which will remain in effect through Saturday evening. The clouds bring a chance of precipitation and, according to Dickson, "it's likely to be rain-snow mix at first, but it should turn to just snow fairly quickly. We're not looking at massive accumulation, but probably an inch or two around Anchorage."

The Susitna Valley and Copper River Basin have been issued a winter weather advisory,  in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday, while the Denali area is under a wind advisory, expected to last until early Sunday morning.

Winter storm or blizzard warnings are in effect for Bethel and much of the Y-K Delta until Sunday morning.

Barrow and the Chukchi Sea Coast are advised to bundle up as the NWS has issued a wind chill advisory, which may bring temperatures down to 55 below. The good news: the advisory only runs until 6 p.m. Saturday evening.