Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comparing Cold and Colder Springs in Fairbanks

Long time Fairbanksians have been comparing this spring to 1992. That spring was much snowier than this year, but this year is colder. So I thought it would be interesting to compare temperatures this spring, not to the average, but to the coldest springs. So of course I have to make a chart, and here it is:

The heavy black line is this year (through Wednesday, May 15th), and the lighter lines are some representative prior years. The dotted line is the average of eight cold April-May periods (1924, 1931, 1945, 1948, 1964, 1985, 1992 and 2002) not including this year (which is certain to be in the top three). So in the "typical" cold spring, the average daily temperature does not get above freezing to stay until about May 4th. Well, we missed that this year by nearly a week. In the typical cold the daily mean exceeds 40ºF about May 10th. While we have had a few days that warm, with the coldest airmass so late in the spring poised for the weekend (more on that in a coming post), we are not going to keep daily means above 40ºF until early next week, nearly two weeks later than normal even for a "cold spring".


  1. Interesting, do you think this is going to make it one of the latest green-ups on record?

    1. Hi Matthew,

      Big warmup coming next week (all the way up to normal!), but seems like it will take a while to get going. There is the anecdotal May 30, 1964 date, which we likely will not break, but could be after May 25th, which (I'm writing from memory here), was the 1992 green-up date and the latest West Chena Ridge date documented.