Cold snap headed to Interior Alaska
By Tim Mowry
Published Saturday, December 27, 2008
FAIRBANKS — The winter’s first cold snap is about to hit, and it won’t be pretty.
“It could be cold enough to freeze warts,” quipped Bob Fischer, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.
Not to worry, Fischer reassured, that’s just meteorological humor. Temperatures won’t reach that of liquid nitrogen — minus 423.17 degrees Fahrenheit — but it’s probably going to be colder than Interior residents have seen it in a long time and for a longer period of time.
Temperatures are expected to start falling today, and by Sunday night lows are expected to be in the minus 30 to minus 40 range. After that, it’s simply a matter of time before clouds move out of the area and temperatures bottom out, Fischer said.
“Once the skies clear, we’re going to see lows in the minus 40s in the Fairbanks area and minus 50s in some of the colder outlying areas with no ice fog,” Fischer predicted, adding that the coldest temperatures will likely be in the eastern Interior near Tok and the Canada border.
There is no end in sight to the bitter cold that will envelope the region, either, according to the forecasting models Fischer and other meteorologists are looking at.
“Current indications are that it will last at least seven to 10 days, or even longer,” Fischer said. “Once it gets cold, it’s going to stay cold. We’re locked into this pattern for the foreseeable future.”
The cold temperatures are the result of a cold air mass over northwest Canada that is moving toward Alaska, Fischer said.
“That air is going to infiltrate slowly to the south and more cold air is going to develop in place over the eastern Interior,” he said.
With little or no warming from the sun at this time of year, daytime highs probably won’t be much warmer than nighttime lows, Fischer said.
“Fairbanks will probably see temperatures of 35 to 40 below for highs and 40s below for lows,” he said. “It probably won’t be more than 5 degrees between the lows and highs.”
Temperatures in the hills also will be cold, though it will be slightly warmer at higher elevations than in town, Fischer said.
The last time Fairbanks had a cold snap in which the low temperature hit 40 below or colder for 10 days in a row was in January 1989, one of the coldest winters on record at the National Weather Service, Fischer said. That cold snap lasted 14 days, from Jan. 5-18.
“Some of the worst cold waves on record have gone on for three weeks,” Fischer noted. “This could turn into one of those.”
So far this winter, Fairbanks has avoided any prolonged stretches of severe cold weather. The coldest temperature so far this winter has been 31 below on Dec. 2, the only time the temperature has hit 30 below this winter.
Keep up with Fairbanks weather conditions here:http://newsminer.com/arcticcam/