Fairbanks weather warms -- to a toasty 15 below

BRRR: Clearing skies are expected to return city to deep freeze.

Associated PressJanuary 6, 2012 

It's not exactly a heat wave, but Fairbanks got a break from extreme cold when the temperature climbed above 20 below zero for the first time in six days.

The balmy temperatures were not expected to last. Clouds that brought snow Friday to the biggest city in Alaska's Interior were expected to dissipate, taking with them the relatively warmer temperatures.

Near noon Friday, the temperature in Fairbanks was minus 13, accompanied by nearly 2 inches of snow, said meteorologist Julie Malingowski. But "we're expecting lows between 35 and 40 below in the valley bottoms" with higher temperatures in surrounding hills, she said.

"We're kind of going to be on a roller-coaster ride," National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Cox told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The nearly weeklong cold snap was more severe in villages west of Fairbanks, with temperatures 40 and 50 degrees below zero. Kaltag, on the Yukon River, reached minus 50 Thursday morning.

On that day, temperatures at Fairbanks International Airport reached 15 below zero, the warmest since Dec. 29.

Clouds and more snow were forecast for Saturday night, with clouds clearing Sunday and extreme cold again Monday -- a high of minus 25 and a low of minus 40.

"Monday will be cool again," Malingowski said. "Can you keep track of all this?"

Clear skies in summer are associated with warmer temperatures but not in winter.

"The clouds create a blanket over the atmosphere," retaining ground from radiating heat back into space, she said.

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