Subzero cold forecast across Alaska

INTERIOR: Fairbanks can look forward to 40 below.

December 28, 2008 

Residents in Anchorage and the Interior should prepare for some of the winter's coldest weather yet, according to the National Weather Service.

Anchorage temperatures were expected to fall to between 5 and 15 below zero Saturday night, with the coldest areas in East Anchorage and Eagle River, according to the weather service forecast. Today's temperatures are expected to be between 5 below and 5 above, with wind-chill factors to 35 below. Monday temperatures might not rise above zero, and might drop as low as 20 below at night, according to the National Weather Service.

Nighttime below-zero temperatures are expected to last all week.

The cold temperatures are the result of a cold air mass over northwest Canada that is moving toward Alaska.

It will be much colder in the Interior. Bob Fischer, a weather service meteorologist in Fairbanks, said Sunday night lows are expected to be in the minus 30 to minus 40 range.

By late Saturday afternoon, temperatures in the Fairbanks area had dropped to 35 below. Fischer said it's simply a matter of time before clouds move out of the area and temperatures bottom out. That's when temperatures could reach minus 50 or more in the Fairbanks area.

"It is just going to settle in and sit," meteorologist Scott Berg said Saturday.

The coldest temperatures will likely be in the eastern Interior near Tok and the Canada border.

Fischer said it looks like the bitter cold will last seven to 10 days, or even longer.

"Once it gets cold, it's going to stay cold. We're locked into this pattern for the foreseeable future," Fischer said.

The cold temperatures are the result of a cold air mass over northwest Canada that is moving toward Alaska.

The last time Fairbanks had a cold snap in which the low temperature hit 40 below or colder for 10 days in a row was in January 1989, one of the coldest winters on record at the National Weather Service, Fischer said. That cold snap lasted 14 days.

"Some of the worst cold waves on record have gone on for three weeks," Fischer noted. "This could turn into one of those."

So far this winter, Fairbanks has avoided any prolonged stretches of severe cold weather. The coldest temperature was 31 below on Dec. 2, the only time the temperature has hit 30 below this winter.

In Anchorage, the last time low temperatures were stuck below zero was in the first half of February.

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