Long-Term Weather Models Point Toward A Warm Summer

With the last of the snow melting off, and Alaska headed toward summer, long range forecasts indicate it could be a hot one.

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National Weather Service Alaska climate science and services manager Rick Thoman uses computer models to generate long term forecasts.

“All point strongly towards significantly warmer-than-normal temperatures,” he said.

Thoman describes extremely warm surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific and Gulf of Alaska as continuing to drive a balmy trend in Alaska. Thoman says the other half of the weather picture, precipitation is much harder to predict.

“Some weak indications of potentially wetter-than-normal across, at least, the eastern Interior and perhaps Southcentral and into Southwest Alaska as well,” he said. “But, those signals are much weaker than the very strong indications for significantly warmer-than-normal temperatures for both May and the early summer.”

The mix of warmth, lightning and rain determines wildfire potential, and Thomans says that’s even harder to forecast.

“Whenever we see a significant indication for warm, definitely our ears perk up, but as we’ve seen recently, for instance in the 2013 season, it can be very warm, but doesn’t necessarily translate to a big fire season,” he said.

Wild fire season also fizzled last summer as the interior experienced wetter than normal conditions, including in Fairbanks, where a June, July August rain fall record was set.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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