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Brrrrrr, with snow in the forecast salmon season may have to be put on hold

Craig Medred
Opening the Taylor Highway, which lies near Alaska's border with Canada. Alaska DOT

This is how a new Ice Age begins.

Where the May thoughts of Alaskans should be turning toward tasty Copper River salmon, they are instead focused on a "Winter Weather Advisory" for Cooper River Country.

Yes, you read right. The National Weather Service has posted such a warning for the Copper River basin 130 miles east of Anchorage despite the fact winter officially ended almost two months ago and the much-ballyhooed Copper River salmon fishing season begins Thursday – a season that's expected to yield 1.3 million red salmon and nearly 20,000 kings.

Still, what's forecast for Glennallen and the surrounding area adjacent to the state's Canadian border sounds a lot more like winter:

"Tonight: Snow and fog ... Snow accumulation of 2 to 8 inches ... Lows in the lower 30s except in the lower 20s through the passes. North wind to 15 mph. 

"Tuesday: Snow. Patchy fog. Additional snow accumulation of 2 to 6 inches. Highs in the 40s except in the lower 30s to lower 40s through the passes. Light winds."

Do the math here. In the worst-case scenario, people in the Copper River basin could be dealing with more than a foot of snow by late Tuesday.

The situation elsewhere looks somewhat better. The forecast for Anchorage isn't calling for "rain mixed with snow" until Thursday. There is even the chance the state's largest city could get unadulterated May rain without snow.

Or not.

Fairbanks, the largest city in the Interior, looks to avoid most of this. The forecast for Tuesday in Fairbanks calls for "mostly sunny." Of course, temperatures are forecast to dip to 5 degrees tonight.

Hey, it could be worse. That's 5 degrees above zero, not 5 degrees below. 

Monday’s high temperature for Fairbanks, in the mid-30s, is the coldest for May 13, ever for Alaska's Golden Heart City. Chilling low temperatures were measured across the Interior Monday morning, including:

•Killik Pass hit at 6 below zero
•Atigun Pass at 5 below zero
•Norutak Lake at 2 below
•Chandalar Shelf DOT at 2 above
•Bettles at 10 above, breaking the record of 20 above set in 2007

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com