Nevertheless, remaining open water in the vicinity of Barrow (soon to be renamed Utqiagvik) is still holding temperatures up whenever the wind direction is onshore. Today is a case in point: with a light southerly breeze this morning the temperature was around 7-10°F, but it jumped up to 28°F when the wind went around to the west. So far the lowest daily high temperature this season is 22°F, which shows a remarkable absence of cold; the most similar year in the past was 1998, when the coldest day through mid-November had a high temperature of 15°F. According to 1981-2010 data, it's "normal" to see a high temperature below zero by this time of year, but this is difficult to achieve without sea ice in place and has rarely been observed in the past decade.
The chart below shows the accumulation of freezing degree days so far this season in comparison to the past 20 years. The warmth this season is unprecedented in the modern historical era, although early winter 1998 was also very warm; and interestingly that too was a year following a very intense El Niño event.
Here's the long-range sea ice outlook from NWS Anchorage, issued today:
Interestingly the outlook includes the following:
"NEAR SHORE NAVIGATIONAL WATERS AROUND POINT BARROW WILL LIKELY CLOSE OFF MUCH EARLIER THAN IN RECENT YEARS...OWING TO THE SEA ICE REMAINING INTO LATE SEPTEMBER AND EARLY OCTOBER. THESE NAVIGATIONAL WATERS ARE ALREADY QUICKLY FILLING IN WITH NEW SEA ICE...AND WILL LIKELY FILL IN WITH GREATER THAN 7 TENTHS NEW ICE BY THE FOURTH WEEK OF NOVEMBER. OFFSHORE SEA ICE FROM ICY CAPE TO BARROW WEST TO 170W HAS STARTED TO FILL IN WITH NEW SEA ICE MAINLY OVER THE HANNA SHOAL REGION. SEA ICE CONCENTRATIONS GREATER THAN 7 TENTHS ARE LIKELY BY THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER."
This seems a little difficult to reconcile with the record warmth as measured in Barrow lately, so I'll try to obtain some clarification on this.
Update Nov 17: the same statement ("near shore navigational waters around Point Barrow will likely close off much earlier than in recent years") appeared in the September and October sea ice outlooks; I wonder if perhaps these words were left in the latest forecast by mistake.