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Wind, snow forecast for Thanksgiving Day

High wind watch in effect for Juneau

Posted: November 21, 2012 - 10:42am  |  Updated: November 22, 2012 - 12:12am

The weather in Juneau has been cold and blustery all week, but the National Weather Service is predicting Thursday will see Juneau and parts of the Southeast Alaska coast lashed with high winds and blanketed with at least an inch or two of snow.

Rick Fritsch, an NWS forecaster in the Juneau Forecast Office, said Wednesday morning that he is expecting one to three inches of snowfall, as well as winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour downtown, with the peak of both weather events between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday.

“We’re talking about, of all things, a wind storm on Thanksgiving Day,” Fritsch said.

A warm front is moving in, with the warmer air set to displace cold air above the ground in the area, according to Fritsch.

But Fritsch added, “If the cold air on the surface stays put, what we’ll have is a disconnect” between the warmer air above and the colder air below.

That could mean less wind — but more snow.

“At this particular time, it looks to me … like we’re either going to have a wind event or a significant snow event,” Fritsch said. “So we’ll either get a nice refresh to the snow that’s on the ground … or we’re going to have a significant wind event.”

In the case of the snowier scenario, Fritsch said Juneau could see at least four inches of snowfall Thursday afternoon and overnight into Friday. It would still be windy, but not quite to the level of the high wind watch in the forecast. Fritsch said he would expect 45 mph gusts downtown in that case.

Either way, Fritsch said, “It’s going to be a rough Thursday and Friday, but the light at the end of the tunnel’s probably going to be Saturday.”

Over the weekend, Fritsch said, the winds should die off and any snow will move out of the Juneau area. The capital city might even see some sunshine, with mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies expected.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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