Tuesday, December 18, 2012
A Tanana Valley Jet and other Exicting Developments
The core of the cold air has moved into the eastern Interior, with lows this morning of 51 below at Northway and 48 below (thru 8am) at Chicken. Meanwhile, our friends in the Delta Junction are being buffeted by 15 to 40 mph and temperatures in the teens below in a classic "Tanana Valley Jet". This happens when cold air in the Upper Tanana Valley moves downriver (in response to lower pressure to the west) and is squeezed through the constriction in the valley near Cathedral Rapids. Since air is a fluid, the velocity has to increase to move through the constriction. The result: strong down-valley winds from about Dot Lake westward across the Delta Junction area and the Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks. On occasion the jet makes it all the way to Nenana, which it did in this case (temperatures was still -41F at 11pm but has been as around 6 below for some hours down with a gusty east wind).
The NOAA-18 1km resolution infrared image from 630am Tuesday shows this in detail.
The cold air pooled in the Upper Tanana is evident (along with the cold valleys of the Fortymile County and the Yukon Flats). The Tanana Valley Jet shows up as the streaky looking of darker color (warmer temperatures) west of the Tetlin Flats.