Ask a Climatologist: A winter of warm temps and decent snow

Snow piles up at Alaska Public Media in Anchorage on Jan. 23rd, 2017 (Photo by Annie Feidt, Alaska’s Energy Desk)

It may not feel like winter is over, but “climatological winter” wrapped up at the end of February. That’s the three month season — December, January and February — that climatologists call winter in the northern hemisphere.

Brian Brettschneider with our Ask a Climatologist segment says defining a standard winter season is important for tracking big picture climate trends.

He says in Alaska, temperatures were significantly above normal for most of the state.

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Interview Highlights:

Winter has been extremely warm in northern Alaska

If you look at the northern half of the mainland, many stations were 8, 10, even up to 14 degrees above normal up on the North Slope. Toward Anchorage, it was 3 to 4 degrees above normal, so notably above normal but not as extreme as the rest of the state.

Then down in Southeast, there were some places that were a little bit below normal. But on bulk the state was on average about 7 degrees above normal for the period.

Most areas around the state have plenty of snow

We’ve had a pretty good winter. On average, stations are running a bit above normal. In Anchorage, our snow depth is outperforming our snowfall, which is an interesting side note.

February was a really snowy month in Anchorage; we had about 25 inches. Fairbanks also had about 24 inches, and Juneau had a fair amount, so a lot of snow fell in February.