Cold air and tropical moisture bring heavy snow
A travel advisory is in effect in Unalaska due to heavy snowfall and treacherous driving conditions that began in the early morning Monday.
Most city facilities are closed, including the Unalaska City School, the Unalaska Library and the city’s recreation center.
Assistant City Manager Bil Homka said essential workers are continuing to provide services. Those include the police department, fire departments and roads maintenance crews.
Officials recommend everyone else in the community stay home and stay safe.
“I just would respectfully request that they stay off the roads unless they absolutely have to be on the roads,” Homka said, not only for their own safety, but also “so our crews can be out there clearing without concern for passing vehicles.”
Michael Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said the system is fairly strong, and is traversing the Aleutians from West to East.
“It's got a pretty strong front,” Lawson said. “Right now the low is just south of Adak … and is rounding up, nearing the Pribilof islands and then back down south over the Unalaska area.”
Lawson said this system is a bit unusual.
“What makes this front a little bit different than most that you see this time of year is that there's such a strong, cold air mass in place,” Lawson said. “You guys normally will warm up with these fronts, and change over to rain and kind of stop any chance of accumulating snow.”
Additionally, Lawson said there is a subtropical connection, which brings lots of moisture with it.
“So you've got this very moist system in a very abnormally cold air mass, which is leading to the heavy snow that you're seeing out there,” he said.
Lawson said the heavy snow is expected to lighten later on Monday, and maybe change to rain. More snow is expected later in the week, with colder air temperatures.