Record Alaska cold = Mild Minnesota Thanksgiving

I’ve talked before about how it’s usually warm in Minnesota when it’s cold in Alaska and visa versa.

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John Wagner/News-Miner Vehicles are seen draped in blankets in the parking lot of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s offices on Monday afternoon, Nov. 21, 2011.

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John Wagner/News-Miner Frost clings to the face of University of Alaska Fairbanks culinary arts student Cory Hobbs during his daily two-mile walking commute from home to campus on Monday afternoon, Nov. 21, 2011

The spacing of so called atmospheric “long waves” just so happens to work out that way. When there’s a cold trof of upper level low pressure over Alaska, there usually a milder ridge over the central USA.

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So it comes as no surprise that with record cold in the interior of Alaska this week, we’re set for a mild (and near record warm) Thanksgiving Day in Minnesota.

More details on Alaska’s cold wave from Capital Weather Gang.

“A frigid Arctic air mass, unusual even by Alaska standards, is dropping the mercury in the state’s interior to unheard of levels in mid-November. Stunningly low temperatures in the -35 to -50 range have gripped the region since Tuesday. These temperatures are some 25 to 40 degrees colder than average.

This morning, Fairbanks airport dropped to 40 below zero, breaking the old record of 39 below. That’s after setting a record low of 35 below Tuesday morning, breaking the old record of 33 below from 1956. Wednesday’s low of -39 just missed 1969’s record of -41.

Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks dropped to an incredible 42 below Wednesday morning, shattering the old record of 37 below set in 1956. This morning, it dropped to 42 below again, setting another new record low. The average low is -7.

A difficult to imagine -49 degree reading was measured unofficially at UAF Smith Lake Wednesday, and, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), infrared satellite imagery sensed 50 below readings in the coldest valley locations.

As cold as low temperatures have been, high temperatures haven’t been much warmer. Fairbanks only gets about six hours of daylight this time of year, limiting the opportunity for the sun to moderate temperatures in the aptly named “Land of the Midnight Sun”. Yesterday’s high at the airport was just -28 compared to an average high of 10.

Little relief is in sight. Highs are forecast to range from -10 to -20 for the next week, with overnight lows of -25 to -40. The NWS office in Fairbanks warned:


By the way, did you know it’s warmer on average in Anchorage in winter than in Minnesota? That’s because Anchorage has a climate modified by the Pacific Ocean.

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