Interior Alaska had a decent cold snap drop in for the Winter Solstice and Christmas holiday. From December 17-28, Fairbanks did not see temperatures climb above zero. By Alaska standards, the period was neither long nor extreme, but we did make some ice, as they say. For comparison sake: The 11 day streak of below zero is tied for 42nd longest in the past 50 years. *
The Koyukuk & Yukon River Valleys saw the largest drops, as Allakaket and Manley Hot Springs fell to -60F and -65F respectively. The Manley temp was the coldest officially recorded in Alaska since Fort Yukon dipped to -66F in 2012.
Fairbanks officially reached -40F for the first time this season on Dec 27. That was the only day it dropped down to -40 at the cabin, as well. We had not seen -40F in Fairbanks since January 12, 2019, which is quite the stretch for us.
On December 28, the Deadhorse airport combined -38F temperatures with a 21 mph breeze, to offer a -73 degree windchill to residents of Prudhoe Bay.
No record lows were set during the 11 day period. The record low statewide for the month of December is -72F, which happened in Chicken, Alaska on New Year’s Eve of 1999.
In spite of the cold snap, there is little doubt that 2019 will be the warmest on record for Alaska. Currently, the temp outside the cabin remains above zero, some birch logs are smoldering in the wood stove, and a window is open, as I type this out, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.
The Midnight Sun Game at Growden Memorial Park; photo credit: Explore Fairbanks
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game has been played on every summer solstice in Fairbanks since 1906. The game starts at 10:30pm, and has never been played under artificial lights.
On a separate weather note: Fairbanks saw it’s first 80F degree day of the year on Thursday, June 20. That’s 10 days later than the average for the first 80. We’ve been dry and quite sunny, with temps basically running in the 70’s up until the Big Eight-Zero finally arrived.
The warmest Summer Solstice on record in Fairbanks happened on 21 June 1991, when the official airport thermometer hit 94F.
It’s going to be an active Solstice, with a Full “Cold Moon”, and the Ursid meteor shower. The American Meteor Society expects peak activity to be around 11 sporadic meteors per hour just before dawn in the mid-Northern Hemisphere. With the full moon, they may be a tad difficult to spot.
Also early Friday morning, Mercury and Jupiter can be seen in the southeast sky just before dawn at only .9 degrees apart, which is about two moon-diameters.
The Fairbanks Weather Almanac:
Details for Dec 20, 2018
Low Temp………….. -24F
Avg Low………….. -13F
Record Low……….. -48F
High Temp……………- 7F
Avg High…………….+ 5F
Wind……………….. 0 mph
Length of Day………. 3 hours, 42 minutes; which was NO LOSS from the previous day!