Alaska May Be in for Colder-Than-Normal Winter

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Alaska is likely in for colder than average winter. The climate phenomenon known as La Nina, the cool sister of El Nino has set up in the equatorial Pacific, and according to National Weather Service lead forecaster Rick Thoman in Fairbanks, it looks powerful.

Thoman says that la Nina tends to keep the jet stream south of Alaska, making it colder here.  Thoman and fellow Fairbanks meteorologist Corey Bogel recently went through National Weather Service records, which go accurately back 60 years, and found strong correlation between La Nina events and cooler than normal winters in Alaska.

Thoman says the only exception to the cooler than normal La Nina trend is in southern southeast Alaska.  Thoman says the state’s coastal areas tend to be drier in La Nina years, but there’s no strong correlation between la Nina and precipitation in the interior. The current la Nina is expected to last through next spring. The La Nina-El Nino cycle can take 3 to 5 years, or rapidly transition from one to the other.

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