It isn’t a figment of Alaskans’ imagination: Alaska’s winters are indeed warmer. Winter months (December through February) have seen a substantial rise in average temperatures over the past fifty years. The northern part of the state has seen the largest increase, with a 9.0 to 9.2F degree rise, but the entire state is under a warming trend.
Nome Sea Ice:
Data credit: UAF, ACCAP, NOAA, @AlaskaWx
Sea ice off the coast of Nome, Alaska is nonexistent in December, defying the historical record. Everything but recent history, that is. The drop off the statistical edge that the graph shows is pretty eye-opening.
The Port of Nome was open and operating at the end of November, which is the latest that has happened on record.
Thursday morning was just a tad chilly in Interior Alaska. Fort Yukon dropped to -45F. The record low for the date in Fort Yukon is -68F, so it’s still balmy from that vantage point.
The Fairbanks airport hit -20F at 8am on Thursday. The first time we had officially dropped to -20 for the season. We are 2-1/2 weeks late (November 19) from the average first -20 of the season, but we are still 10 days earlier than in 2018.
The temp at the cabin at 8am was -26F on Thursday.
November was a warm month across the State of Alaska. With the lack of sea ice, Utqiagvik was a staggering 16.1 degrees above normal for the month. By comparison, Fairbanks was a modest 10.6 degrees above normal for November.
Graph credit: ACCAP
Sea ice in the Chukchi Sea was at the lowest level ever recorded for November. In fact, sea ice was at such a low level, that it was below the daily average levels for entire summers prior to 2001.
November highlights: Data credit: NOAA; Graphic credit: @AlaskaWx
Some highlights for the month statewide:
The final week of the month hit the village of Bettles, with a record 3-day snowfall of 28.3″. That same storm also set the 2-day record.
Anchorage, Cold Bay and Kodiak all saw their warmest November on record, while Utqiagvik experienced its second warmest.
On Thanksgiving morning the temperature in Fairbanks was 33F, which is only the seventh time in 116 years that Fairbanks saw above freezing temperatures on that day.
Nome had no snow on the ground during November, yet Chulitna received 78.5″!
Kotzebue continues its streak of above average temperatures for the 27th consecutive month.
Civil twilight ended on Sunday morning in Fairbanks. Monday was the first time since May 16th, that we have not experienced civil twilight at night. All night. Basically, during civil twilight, the sun is just below the horizon, which allows for most outdoor activities to take place without artificial lights. As if to punctuate that fact, when I returned home from the working-fishing trip, my security light came on for the first time in months.
Fairbanks community wood pile
I needed one more truckload of firewood to put me over the top for the coming burning season, so I went the easy route and picked one up. The wood has now been hauled, split and stacked. It’s a good feeling to have all those BTU’s piled up outside the cabin. I’m ready for a cold winter, but if we have a mild one like last year, I’ll have quite a bit left over.
Fireweed past bloom
Fireweed is our unofficial harbinger of darkness. The plant blooms from the bottom to the top. When we reach the peak of the fireweed blossom, like we have right now, residents of Interior Alaska feel a natural sense of apprehension. Summer is nearing its end; winter is close at hand.
What about autumn in the Interior? It’s beautiful, and to be honest, September is my favorite month up here. With a little luck, autumn could last a good 3-4 days.
Forecast for Alaska temperature difference from normal on Saturday. (WeatherBell.com)
No matter where one goes in town, everyone is talking about the weather. It’s hot. For Fairbanks, Alaska… it’s damn hot. Very few people are thrilled with it either.
Fairbanks is virtually assured that this month of December will be the warmest on record.
Fairbanks weather data through Dec. 19. National Weather Service
Every day this month, we have seen temperatures above normal. Throw out the first two days of the month, and we have been well above normal.
It hasn’t just been Fairbanks either, this has been statewide, which is saying something. Alaska is not a small state. On December 8, Juneau hit 54 degrees, which was warmer than Houston, Texas.
In the middle of the month, Anchorage saw 4 straight days of 45 degrees or higher, which was also a record.
Eagle, Alaska on the Yukon has been 23.5 degrees above normal for the month. Kotzebue, on the west coast, has tied record highs.
In Utqiaġvi, the community formerly known as Barrow, 74 out of the last 79 days have been above normal in temperature.
Big, red blob over Alaska; big, blue, hunk of cold over midwest (Wetherbell.com)
This weather pattern is freaky, even considering recent winters. It’s just too warm for us. The roads are a slick mess, and they will remain so all winter if we don’t go below zero. The rivers are often used as highways between villages, but they have not developed enough ice for travel. In spite of open windows, I still have been letting the fire go out for much of the day.
This is ridiculous. The Big Island of Hawaii not only is getting more snow on it’s peak, but temps there are colder than Anchorage. We want our winter back.
The snow has landed, although so far, it’s only a thin layer on the ground. The pond has started to get a coating of ice, after two nights of a hard freeze. After getting by with lighting a fire in the wood stove every other night, the ritual is now completed nightly. Soon, the fire will burn 24/7.