Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cold in Context

Here's another view of the recent cold weather: the daily mean temperature plotted against the 1981-2010 normals; grey shading of plus/minus one standard deviation.

Here are standardized daily departures for 2011. Looked at this way, the recent cold snap was about as far from normal as the hot weather in late May. The coldest day, the 17th, with an average temperature of -35F, was 2.7 standard deviations below normal, almost the same as warmest day in, when the 28th was 2.9 standard deviations above normal. The height of cold snap was a couple days longer than the hot spell in May, but the total "excessive" (the area under the curve) will likely be somewhat greater in May than in the cold snap.


  1. Rick,
    Is the new NOAA climate normal for Fairbanks as found in correct? Link

    It's hard to believe that the average low for January is only -11

  2. Good catch: yes, it would be hard to believe.

    These are the 1981-2010 normals for the College Observatory cooperative site, which I usually call UAF West Ridge (because the observatory in the name does not exist anymore).

    Note the zip code is 99775, which is the zip for the University. If you use 99701 you'll get the Fairbanks Airport normals.


  3. Is UAF West Ridge located on a high-elevation area, and therefore, is warmer because of temperature inversion? Thnx.

  4. The coop site as moved around a bit but is at about 600'MSL. That's only a 150' above the airport but as the upper air plots show, that's enough to be quite a bit milder (on average) in winter.