Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cold is Not the New Normal

There will be a lot to write about once April is in the books, but for now here's something to chew on. April is going to finish up as the coldest in Fairbanks since 1924. Following on the cold December and the cold January 2012, I thought I'd look at thermally "extreme" months in recent years.

In the past decade, 2003-2012 plus the first four months of this year, here are the number of times a given month was in either the top ten warmest or coldest in the Weather Bureau/NWS era (since 1930). So red is the "warm month" count and blue the "cold month" count.

The total count is: since January 2003, 21 month have been in the warmest ten and 10 have been in the coldest ten. Interestingly, only two months in the warm season (April 2013 and September 2004) have been in the cold column. while 11 months have been in the warmest ten.


  1. Brian BrettschneiderApril 30, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Rick, how do the April/May warm anomalies compare to snow cover? Is it correlated to an earlier "snow off" date?

  2. If this were poker, would cold air advection beat solar input this time of year? Apparently so, especially given our lingering snow cover and high Albedo value.

    Good news (?)...air flow has turned W/SW bringing moisture and maybe some degree of warmer temps for a few days. And here come the snow showers with that flow.


  3. I have been following this blog because I am visiting Fairbanks on May 20th, 21st, and 22nd. I am from the continental United States and will be going to Alaska on vacation. Do you think this cold spell will last through mid-late May? I'm hoping it will warm up for me! What does the tardiness in the Spring thaw mean for those visiting Alaska in the early tourist season?

    1. Hi, and thanks for reading.

      The numerical models for some time have been forecasting some modification of temperatures (compared to normal), especially after this weekend, though no sign of a big warm-up. However, with a very unusually snowpack in place, this by itself will keep temperatures lower than they would be otherwise until it's mostly gone. If it stays on the cool side through mid-month, the most likely impacts on your visit to Fairbanks would be: still piles of snow around big parking lots (get your picture taken at Fred Myer in front a mound o' snow). Also, trees may not have leaved out yet. It's not out of the question that there could be river flooding, but that's very unlikely to impact your visit. If your going to Denali National Park, the snow level is likely to still be quite far down on the hills, which could make for some even more then usually picturesque photos. Hope this helps.