Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:08 PM GMT on January 31, 2012
Bitter cold temperatures gripped much of Alaska again this morning, and the month of January is setting numerous records for coldest January on record for much of northern Alaska. According to the Fairbanks weather office, here are the likely final rankings for January temperatures at select locations in Alaska during 2012:
Kotzebue: 2nd coldest
Barrow: not in top ten coldest
Fairbanks: 5th coldest (coldest since 1971)
A major atmospheric jet stream pattern change is underway this week, though, which will bring more seasonable temperatures to Alaska by late in the week.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average as analyzed by the GFS model, for January 30, 2012. Remarkably cold air was present over northern Alaska, Eastern Europe, and Southern Asia, while very warm air was over the Central U.S. and much of Siberia.
European cold wave kills 58
Alaska isn't the only place suffering exceptionally cold temperatures this week. At least 58 people have died in the European cold wave over the past week, according to ABC News. Hardest hit was the Ukraine, where 30 people, most of them homeless, died.
Alaska's -79°F reading bogus
I reported in yesterday's post that a personal weather station located about 180 miles north of Fairbanks, the Jim River DOT site, apparently recorded a low temperature of -79°F Saturday morning (January 28, 2012). This is very close to the coldest temperature ever recorded in the U.S., a remarkable -80°F (-62.2°C) reading from Prospect Creek, AK (about a mile away from Jim Creek), on January 23, 1971. However, it turns out the that the electronic temperature sensor on the weather station at Jim Creek is only rated to -40°F. Furthermore, the voltage on the lithium battery that powers the stations drops dramatically below -50°F, resulting in bogus low temperatures. Here is the official work on the low temperatures at Jim River from the NWS:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FAIRBANKS AK
252 PM AKST MON JAN 30 2012
...CLARIFICATION OF TEMPERATURES FROM JIM RIVER DOT CAMP...
TEMPERATURES THIS PAST WEEKEND AT THE ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION JIM RIVER MAINTENANCE CAMP AT MILE 138 DALTON HIGHWAY...STATION JMTA2...HAVE BEEN REPORTED AS LOW AS 79 BELOW.
THE TEMPERATURES ARE NOT CORRECT. THE WEATHER STATION IN USE AT THE JIM RIVER DOT CAMP IS A PERSONAL WEATHER STATION THAT IS NOT RATED FOR TEMPERATURE COLDER THAN 40 BELOW. THE UNREALISTICALLY LOW TEMPERATURES ARE BELIEVED TO BE A FUNCTION OF THE BATTERY FAILING AT VERY LOW TEMPERATURES.
THERE ARE NO OFFICIAL...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE STANDARD...TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENTS AT JIM RIVER DOT CAMP.
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