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Old 07-10-2009, 04:57 PM
 
Location: Singapore
3,292 posts, read 4,250,551 times
Reputation: 1895

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I'm going to be moving to Anchorage next month and have been doing some research on winters from the past in Anchorage (and eventually other areas in the state). The one that really sticks out to me is the winter of 1917/1918.

I know December isn't the only winter month but just to show an example of what kind of weather is possible in Anchorage, here is the temperature data from 12/1917:

High/Low in chronological order:

-5 -15
10 -5
0 -15
6 -16
22 5
18 10
18 16
20 5
14 -9
11 -18
-7 -23
5 -22
-4 -19
0 -20
10 -20
-1 -22
-10 -27
-13 -28
-10 -28
-16 -34
-20 -33
-12 -30
-11 -33
-21 -36
-19 -36
-12 -29
-14 -28
-13 -27
-2 -23
25 -15
26 7
Avg Hi: -0.1 F
Avg Lo: -18.3 F

It only snowed 1.8 inches though, unsurprisingly with all that cold. The station I got this data from is called Anchorage WB AP. I'm not sure what that is but it's around the north side of town a little east of downtown. It also hasn't been in operation since 1952.

Now I don't want this thread to devolve into a climate change crapfest so please refrain. There's a politics forum for that.

I'd like to hear stories of long lasting extreme cold from people who have lived through them.

Products - Utah Climate Center
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 6,412,168 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candle View Post
I'd like to hear stories of long lasting extreme cold from people who have lived through them.
The month of December in Anchorage is just not the place to look for cold weather history.

Try Fairbanks, in January and February, and look at the decade of the 1960's, or try 1989.

Note that Fairbanks weather, due to its Interior location, swings from one extreme to the other in winter; hence, it is rarely near any "average", but instead is either close to the record high or close to the record cold. There are days in February when it approaches +40F, and there are weeks in February where it approaches -40F (but doesn't get that warm!).

Also, note that the official Fairbanks weather is from the airport, where it is relatively warmer than in many places around the area. Try finding North Pole, Wainwright or Eielson reports for much colder temperatures.

For average cold, but not particularly extreme cold, look at Barrow for the same January and February months.
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,850 posts, read 19,592,282 times
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Anchorage only very rarely gets extreme cold. For extreme cold stories you need to talk to the people living in Interior Alaska. Normally, winters in the Anchorage bowl are not much colder than winters in Omaha, Nebraska. There will be typically 2 or 3 days in December and again in February that drop below -20°F, but the rest of the time it is in the 0°F to +20°F range.

January is usually when the Chinook Winds from the south hit the Anchorage area, bringing 80 mph to 100+ mph winds, and warm temperatures. While the winds blow the temperature can rise into the +40°Fs.

Lately, the winters with the coldest temperatures in Anchorage have been the winters of 1979-1980, 1989-1990, 1999-2000, and this last winter beginning January 1, 2009. So as long as you plan for -30°F or colder by the winter of 2019, you should be okay.

You should also know that Anchorage has had winters where there was more snow and colder temperatures in Anchorage, Kentucky, than in Anchorage, Alaska. However, those warm winters are as equally rare as the extremely cold winters, and less predictable.
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:05 PM
 
Location: The Woods
16,455 posts, read 21,469,319 times
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Anchorage isn't very cold. Try the Interior for cold, and this past winter saw some very low temps there.
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:17 PM
 
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,596 posts, read 34,552,497 times
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I tried that Utah thing...I can't get it to go earlier than April 2009.
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:52 PM
 
4,986 posts, read 8,284,150 times
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Ditto to what has been said before. If you want "real" cold you need to go farther north. This last winter though we had a pretty good cold snap in the -10 to -20 range that lasted 2-3 weeks, but then came to an abrupt end with a massive Chinook windstorm. The resulting thaw and runoff made a huge mess that essentially shut the city down for almost a week.

This year they are starting to talk about another El Nino forming later in the year, which could mean a slightly warmer winter for us. However, that warmth may also come with more precipitation and more Southernly flows up from the gulf produced by the blocking ridge that forms over Southeast AK. For Anchorage, that could also mean more windstorms!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Candle View Post
I'm going to be moving to Anchorage next month
So, you found a place?
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Singapore
3,292 posts, read 4,250,551 times
Reputation: 1895
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rance View Post
I tried that Utah thing...I can't get it to go earlier than April 2009.
- move map view to wherever you want
- zoom in
- click on the yellow or pink dots which indicate where the station is/was located. Clicking on a dot is supposed to select that station.

- then look to the right at period of record requested and select the range
- and then check whatever boxes you want under climate data fields. I usually just check min/max temp, precip, snow fall, and snow depth.
- then you should be ready to click submit and download the CSV file which opens in Excel.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
5,842 posts, read 6,028,487 times
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While Anchorage is not that cold compared to much of the state, it can be colder than many think. The official temp is near the airport on the West side of town. The East side of Anchorage can get much colder. I have seen 40 below on the East side. Of course there have been winters where officially it never got below zero. You can almost always count on it getting to 50 above at least once in Janurary.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:16 PM
 
Location: Singapore
3,292 posts, read 4,250,551 times
Reputation: 1895
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moose Whisperer View Post
Ditto to what has been said before. If you want "real" cold you need to go farther north. This last winter though we had a pretty good cold snap in the -10 to -20 range that lasted 2-3 weeks, but then came to an abrupt end with a massive Chinook windstorm. The resulting thaw and runoff made a huge mess that essentially shut the city down for almost a week.

This year they are starting to talk about another El Nino forming later in the year, which could mean a slightly warmer winter for us. However, that warmth may also come with more precipitation and more Southernly flows up from the gulf produced by the blocking ridge that forms over Southeast AK. For Anchorage, that could also mean more windstorms!



So, you found a place?
I doubt El Nino will be ready this year. It's too late for it to form with any staying power. Maybe 2010-2011 will have one but I think it's unlikely we have an El Nino or even a La Nina this year. None of the pro's know either so we'll just have to wait and see. My guess is neutral ENSO conditions.

Interesting little paper from 2006 I think:
http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/papers/El_Nino_Anchorage.doc

Yep, I found a place.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:34 PM
 
Location: Singapore
3,292 posts, read 4,250,551 times
Reputation: 1895
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
The month of December in Anchorage is just not the place to look for cold weather history.

Try Fairbanks, in January and February, and look at the decade of the 1960's, or try 1989.

Note that Fairbanks weather, due to its Interior location, swings from one extreme to the other in winter; hence, it is rarely near any "average", but instead is either close to the record high or close to the record cold. There are days in February when it approaches +40F, and there are weeks in February where it approaches -40F (but doesn't get that warm!).

Also, note that the official Fairbanks weather is from the airport, where it is relatively warmer than in many places around the area. Try finding North Pole, Wainwright or Eielson reports for much colder temperatures.

For average cold, but not particularly extreme cold, look at Barrow for the same January and February months.
Barrow has less of a temperature range due to the wind and proximity to the ocean right? Winds are usually from the west or east as I understand it?

1917/1918 was one of the coldest winters in Anchorage's records though. I should've been clearer in my OP. I meant "coldest" relative to the area, not "coldest" over all.

Barrow's records should be interesting since they go back to 1901.
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