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Unseasonably warm weather continues; Alyeska closed to skiers today

Tegan Hanlon,Zaz Hollander

UPDATE 10:30 AM TUESDAY:

 Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood will not open for skiers and snowboarders Tuesday because of unseasonably warm temperatures and severe weather, according to a post on the resort's Facebook page. 

The National Weather Service is predicting highs in the lower 40s and rain for the Girdwood area Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, Seward Highway drivers should expect up to 45-minute traffic delays because of avalanche hazard reduction work at mileposts 90 and 87. The work will cause intermittent traffic stops between Bird and Portage, according to the state Department of Transportation. 

Traffic is also being rerouted near Mile 113, in the McHugh Creek area, because of ice falling off cliffs onto the highway.

UPDATE 8:30 AM TUESDAY:

The National Weather Service has issued a freezing rain advisory for the Anchorage Bowl until 10 a.m. Tuesday. The advisory covers Anchorage, Eagle River, Indian and Eklutna. 

Forecasters say as much as a tenth of an inch of ice could accumulate before the freezing rain ends as temperatures rise to above freezing by late morning. Travel could be difficult due to slick roads. 

ORIGINAL STORY:

Forecasters expect a stubborn weather system that has swamped Alaska with warm temperatures to stick around for at least another week.

"This is getting almost near unprecedented," said Christian Cassell, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Since Jan. 14, temperatures in the city have consistently been above normal January highs and lows. On Friday, the thermometer peaked at 46 degrees, far above the normal 23 degree high and tying the record for the warmest Jan. 17.

If temperatures in the 40s linger in Anchorage for the next two weeks and if rain instead of snow continues in Fairbanks, "that's when you're starting to get unprecedented," Cassell said.

So far in 2014, the average temperature exceeds normal by 10 degrees. Last January, it was up by about 5 degrees, according to the weather service.

In 1926, Alaska sweated through the hottest January on record with an average high temperature of 43.4 degrees. Over the first 19 days of this January, the average high temperature was nearly 31 degrees.

Forecaster blame a high pressure system anchored over western North America for Alaska's melting snow and California's very dry and windy conditions.

"We're getting southerly flow from deep down into the Pacific, near the subtropics, and we're pretty much just stuck in this pattern for the foreseeable future," Cassell said.

The weather service is forecasting highs in the mid 30s to lower 40s through Sunday in Anchorage with a chance of rain and snow showers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Snow accumulation is right around 43.5 inches in the city this season, only 1.5 inches short of normal, Cassell said.

Up in Fairbanks, temperatures sat in the upper 20s Monday, which is atypical in an area where temperatures are usually between zero and 20 below, said Carey Freeman, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks's average temperature for the month is about five degrees above normal, Freeman said. For the rest of the week, forecasters in Fairbanks predict similarly steamy winter temperatures with highs between 15 and 25 degrees through Wednesday, spiking up to 30 degrees Thursday.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had a different date for the warmest January on record in Alaska.  

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589.

 

 

 


By TEGAN HANLON and ZAZ HOLLANDER
thanlon@adn.com