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Deep Freeze in Alaska

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:43 PM GMT on April 14, 2013

Deep Freeze in Alaska

April has so far been one of the coldest such on record for Fairbanks, Alaska as we near the month’s halfway point (UPDATE: See comments section). Cold and snow have dominated the weather across the state recently.

As of April 14th the temperature has averaged just 9.7°F (-12.4°C) in Fairbanks which is 16.7°F (9.3°C) below normal and about what it should be in early March. The coldest temperature so far this month was -21°F (-29.4°C) on April 11th, a far cry from the city’s all-time April low of -32°F (-35.6°C) set on April 4, 1944 but the cold has been exceptionally persistent.



The snow depth is still hovering around 2 feet (60 cm) with more on the way. Julie Stricker wrote this piece on Friday (April 12th) for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner wondering if spring will ever arrive in the city.



A recent photo of the landscape in the Fairbanks area. Photo by Ned Rozell for Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The rest of the state has faired little better. Anchorage has averaged 24.7°F (-4.1°C) or 8.7° (4.8°C) below normal and also has about 20” (50 cm) of snow still on the ground. Infamously snowy Valdez, which is running 7.1°F (3.9°C) below normal, had a snow pack of 84” (213 cm) as of April 9th following a three-day storm that deposited 38.5” (98 cm) on the 7th-9th.

The coldest temperature measured anywhere in the state so far this April has been -39°F (-39.4°C) at the North Slope village of Nuiqsut on April 7th. The all-time Alaska state April cold record remains safely at the -50°F (-45.6°C) recorded at Umiat in April of 1986.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

P.S. I will be going through a jury selection process this coming week, so am not sure when I will be making my next post.

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Ouch, have fun with jury duty. Older brother narrowly escaped being picked.

Thanks for the blog.
April 1924 Fairbanks averaged 7.8°F over the first 13 days.

Day Observed
Max: Min: Avg:
1 17 -2 8
2 15 -5 5
3 16 -4 6
4 5 -13 -4
5 2 -21 -9
6 4 -23 -9
7 10 -22 -6
8 30 -6 12
9 38 10 24
10 40 20 30
11 31 18 25
12 19 5 12
13 22 -2 10

http://www.arh.noaa.gov/clim/climate.php?stnid=PA FA&mon=4&yr=1924&type=obs

I don't believe this station is the same station used today, however.
Quoting sullivanweather:
April 1924 Fairbanks averaged 7.8°F over the first 13 days.

Day Observed
Max: Min: Avg:
1 17 -2 8
2 15 -5 5
3 16 -4 6
4 5 -13 -4
5 2 -21 -9
6 4 -23 -9
7 10 -22 -6
8 30 -6 12
9 38 10 24
10 40 20 30
11 31 18 25
12 19 5 12
13 22 -2 10

http://www.arh.noaa.gov/clim/climate.php?stnid=PA FA&mon=4&yr=1924&type=obs

I don't believe this station is the same station used today, however.


Thanks for the correction! It may not have been the same site in Fairbanks used in 1924, but the data from then is considered part of the official record.
April 1985 also started off colder.

Day Observed
Max: Min: Avg:
1 5 -17 -6
2 23 -11 6
3 18 4 11
4 18 -11 4
5 20 -15 3
6 32 -11 11
7 38 14 26
8 27 16 22
9 16 -8 4
10 13 -10 2
11 13 -8 3
12 15 1 8
13 19 -2 9

Avg 7.7°F


http://www.arh.noaa.gov/clim/climate.php?stnid=PA FA&mon=4&yr=1985&type=obs
Chris,

My nose is always in Alaska's weather so I was actually researching this myself yesterday afternoon. I do believe the 1985 data is from the same station, too.
By far the coldest start to April for Fairbanks was 1911.

Day Observed
Max: Min: Avg:
1 21 -24 -1
2 23 -21 1
3 35 -18 9
4 33 -30 2
5 26 -21 3
6 30 7 19
7 15 5 10
8 18 -18 0
9 11 -16 -2
10 11 -32 -10
11 16 -32 -8
12 17 5 11
13 15 -1 7

Avg: 2.9°F
Thought it would be interesting to note Bismarck, ND just broke their all-time daily snowfall record today and it's still snowing at 1/2SM.
Through 7PM Bismarck has recorded 15.8" of snow breaking the all-time single day snowfall record of 15.5" on 3/3/1966.
Quoting sullivanweather:
Thought it would be interesting to note Bismarck, ND just broke their all-time daily snowfall record today and it's still snowing at 1/2SM.
Through 7PM Bismarck has recorded 15.8" of snow breaking the all-time single day snowfall record of 15.5" on 3/3/1966.


Calendar day precipitation records (snow or rain) are not climatologically significant. It is 24-hour records for such that matter. That being said, I'm sure Bismarck will have surpassed their all-time 24-hour snowfall record of 15.9" set on October 28-29, 1991 before midnight local time today. Their single-storm snowfall record of 28.3" set over six days (yes, it was a single storm system) on November 22-27, 1993 is probably safe.
Check out this link for early and late season snows in Pennsylvania. You can see the pages before and after this one too.
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Check out this link for early and late season snows in Pennsylvania. You can see the pages before and after this one too.


May 17-18th, 2002 there was a snow event across north-central Pennsylvania extending into east-central New York and western New England. I remember how odd it was to be getting snow (just an inch in Sullivan County at my locale) in May a month after the heat wave of April 16-18, 2002 where for three straight days the temperatures soared into the low 90's. Snow maxed out around 6" in some of the higher terrain of the Catskills.
May 23, 2002 in DC area stream valley. Latest frost ever observed
at my garden but very light and did no damage. Frost was only on mulched insulated surfaces like hay windrows. Summer 2002 was
overall hot.
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