In recent weeks, the western half of interior Alaska has been colder relative to normal than the eastern half, and this is characteristic of El Niño winters. Here is the average temperature anomaly since November 15 for five stations lying approximately west-east across the state:
Eagle AP +8.0°F
According to Papineau's study in 2001, El Niño winter temperatures are typically "near normal in western Alaska but significantly warmer than normal for the eastern two-thirds of the state", so the recent pattern matches this nicely. As El Niño won't die out any time soon, we might expect the general
pattern to persist on average during the heart of winter.
The idea of west-east temperature gradients led me to wonder where the climate of Fairbanks falls in terms of normal temperatures along the 65th parallel. The figure below shows one answer, taken from the CFS reanalysis; according to this data, Fairbanks winter temperatures are close to (but slightly above) average for the latitude. The eastern North Atlantic is the epicenter of warmth at high northern latitudes, and of course eastern Russia is the pole of cold. It's interesting to see the similar east-west gradient across North America and across Russia; with westerly mean flow, increased distance from the western oceans translates directly into lower temperatures.