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No relief until next week as Alaska deep freeze continues

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published January 19, 2017

A low cloud bank stretches into Turnagain Arm as steam rises from buildings on a cold morning in Anchorage on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The Chugach and Kenai mountains form a backdrop for the chilly scene. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Low temperatures overnight Wednesday in Interior Alaska didn't quite reach 60 below zero, but meteorologists there and in Southcentral Alaska expect the current cold snap to stay unbroken until next week.

Ryan Metzger, a forecaster at the Fairbanks office of the National Weather Service, said Tanana's overnight low, the coldest in the region, was the same 59 below reported Wednesday morning on the Salcha River. Similar lows were reported in Bettles at 56 below, Nenana at 53 below and Galena at 51 below.

Temperatures in Fairbanks were fluctuating Thursday morning, as clouds that took an edge off the city's overnight chill moved out of the area.

"Like 6 p.m. yesterday we were at 48 below, and by 4 a.m. (Thursday) we were 40 below, and by 6 a.m. we were 37 below," Metzger said. "Right now (9 a.m.) at the Fairbanks airport, we're back down to 44 below."

Jason Ahsenmacher, at the Weather Service's Anchorage office, said Southcentral's overnight lows were coldest in the Mat-Su and points north, including 39 below in Butte and 33 below in Wasilla.

"(It's been) basically cold: negative 40 all along the Parks Highway," Ahsenmacher said. "It looks like Talkeetna hit negative 38 — that is very impressive."

In the Anchorage Bowl, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport hit 14 below overnight. The city's lowest temperature, 29 below, was recorded at Campbell Creek in East Anchorage; an Eagle River site reported 32 below.

Ahsenmacher said Kenai Peninsula lows hovered around 25 below overnight, including 26 below at the Soldotna airport. Homer, a relative warm spot, was at zero degrees.

Temperatures will increase slightly into the weekend, but both Anchorage and Fairbanks will see the end of the snap next week when the Arctic air mass over the state is replaced by warmer air.

"Instead of this Arctic airflow we'll be drawing airflow from the North Pacific," Ahsenmacher said. "Late Tuesday and beyond is going to be much warmer – we're looking at temperatures going to normal (for Anchorage) and then above normal late next week."

"So maybe Sunday we'll have lows in the minus-30 range and Monday, and then as we get into next week and toward the end of the week it'll be warming up," Metzger said.

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