Temperature Records Fall Across Alaska

UPDATE: Alyeska Resort’s Chair 6, Tram, Ted’s Express, Quad, and Magic Carpets will reopen Thursday, 1/30/14 at 1:00 p.m.

Temperature records fell across the state yesterday. With highs in the 40s, 50s and 60s, much of the state is experiencing weather that feels more like May or June than January.

Photo by Stefanie Flynn, The Bake Shop.
Photo by Stefanie Flynn, The Bake Shop.

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Port Alsworth, on Lake Clark, was the warmest spot in the state Monday at 62 degrees, the highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska in January. Nome hit 51 degrees, the highest mid winter temperature recorded there.

Rick Thoman is Climate Program Manager for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. He says a big high pressure system has been stuck over most of the state.

“It’s lasted almost 10 days now so this has provided a lot of time for warm air to be moved north, to melt snow in places that normally have snow this time of year and produce lots of temperature extremes,” Thoman said.

Seward hit 61 degrees on Monday. It was 57 in Homer. Even the Brooks Range has seen temperatures in the 40s.

The length of the warm spell is noteworthy. Thoman says you have to go back to the late 1970s or early 80s to find anything similar.

Photo by Stefanie Flynn, The Bake Shop.
Photo by Stefanie Flynn, The Bake Shop.

“This is one of those dramatic excursions that kind of get weather people excited,” Thoman said.

In Girdwood, home to Alyeska Ski Resort, this ‘dramatic excursion’ from normal winter elicits a different reaction.

“I just looked up the mountain and it’s frightful right now,” Stefanie Flynn, who co-owns The Bake Shop, a popular restaurant at the base of Alyeska, said.

The ski resort will be closed until Thursday, due to poor conditions. Flynn says The Bake Shop will stay open, but business has been slow.

“We see very unhappy, sad looking customers, but we also see that of course the numbers are lacking, we don’t get as many people into our restaurant for lunch or breakfast so we do see the impact here, especially on the weekends,” Flynn said.

Photo by Stefanie Flynn, The Bake Shop.
Photo by Stefanie Flynn, The Bake Shop.

Flynn says the raspberries in her yard are leafing out. She’s hoping winter will return quickly with a healthy dump of snow. But Rick Thoman, from the National Weather Service says that’s not likely any time soon. He says the warm temperatures will begin to moderate, but snow isn’t in the forecast for at least the next few weeks.

“It really does not appear that we will see significant snowfall over most of Alaska so that places that have lost their snow cover or have a serious ice cover on their snow are not likely to get much relief from that,” Thoman said. “And really at this point, in the next two weeks we don’t see temperatures dramatically below normal most anywhere in Alaska.”

A recent Facebook post offered what may be the shortest and most accurate way to describe the unusual weather- June-uary.

Annie Feidt is the broadcast managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at afeidt@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Annie here

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