Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Winter Lives

Breakup and snow melt are well advanced for parts of the Alaskan interior, but winter isn't quite ready to relinquish its grip in the far north.  Temperatures dropped below 0°F this morning across much of the western and interior North Slope, and a strong northerly wind event developed at Howard Pass, with brisk wind chills below -30°F.

This morning's low temperatures:

And conditions at Howard Pass in the western Brooks Range:

Compared to winter cold events, this is nothing to write home about, but nevertheless it's been more than a decade since Howard Pass had wind chills this low so late in the season.  However, back in 2013, the first day of May brought temperatures of -15°F with 40+mph winds.  It's unusual but certainly not unprecedented.

The surface analysis from this morning shows high pressure (although not especially intense) over the Arctic Ocean, with a north-south pressure gradient across the Brooks Range.  The red dot marks the approximate location of Howard Pass.

In contrast, the NWS breakup map shows lots of open water on the Tanana and upper Yukon Rivers.  The ice went out at Nenana on Saturday, and it happened early in the morning, which is very unusual.  The breakup date of April 27 was close to the average of recent decades, but also earlier than the last 3 years.  Rick Thoman has more comments on his blog:

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