I Know Alaska’s Cold, But…

… this is ridiculous.  Check out the temperatures in Fairbanks for the past few days:

Date Max Temp (F) Min Temp (F) Average Temp (F) Departure from Normal (F)
Friday 11/13 20 -17 2 -1
Saturday 11/14 1 -21 -10 -12
Sunday 11/15 0 -20 -10 -12
Monday 11/16 -13 -23 -18 -19

afd

The forecast for today and tomorrow isn’t too bad.  Highs 10-20F with lows dropping to 20-35 below each night.  The bottom really falls out on Thursday:

Thursday…Partly cloudy. Highs 15 to 25 below. Light winds.

Thursday Night…Partly cloudy. Lows near 30 below.

Friday…Partly cloudy. Highs near 15 below.

Friday Night…Mostly cloudy. Lows near 25 below.

Just keep that in mind the next time you step out into 40 degree air with a little breeze and think it’s cold.

So how did it get so cold?  There were likely three factors that played a big role: snow cover, light winds, and little sunlight.  As of the report yesterday, there were 8 inches of snow on the ground in Fairbanks.  Snow is an excellent reflector of sunlight, which prevents the ground (and subsequently, the air) from warming.  Of course, this time of year in Alaska, there is very little direct sunlight.  So, what little warmth could be accumulated from the Sun was mostly reflected away by the snow.  Finally, light winds prevent air from mixing and allow for continuous radiational cooling at the surface during the night.  With little warming during the day and intense cooling at night, extremely cold temperatures can occur.  According to WeatherUnderground, several reporting stations recorded temperatures of 40 below or colder this morning around the state.  Now, that’s cold… I don’t care who you are.

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One Response to I Know Alaska’s Cold, But…

  1. Paul Yeager says:

    You have to wonder where this cold air is going to go. Bitterly cold air in Alaska doesn’t always come southward into the mainland of the United States, but it can…and the colder the air is, the more dense it is…

    Maybe this is one of the signs that the forecasts for a harsh winter are on track.

    Paul

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