The cold snap that stung Southcentral Alaska with sub-zero temperatures last week is expected to end Sunday as temperatures begin climbing back into the 20′s and 30′s, forecasters say.
Although Anchorage didn’t see temperatures drop to the predicted 20 degrees below zero, last week’s cold weather dropped the mercury to minus 7 on Friday — the coldest weather Anchorage has seen this year. Last year, temperatures didn’t fall below minus two, forecasters said.
Residents in the Mat-Su Borough were harder hit, with temperatures falling to a peak low of minus 25 early Saturday morning in Talkeetna and Willow. Meanwhile, record-setting snowfall in the panhandle shut down schools in Juneau for the first time in more than seven years, KTOO reported.
Tim Markle, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s forecasting station in Anchorage, said a storm system brewing in the Aleutian Islands will bring warmer, moist air to the Alaskan mainland.
Highs in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough are expected to remain in the low 30′s throughout next week, peaking at a relatively balmy 36 in Anchorage on Monday before hovering around the freezing mark for the rest of the week. Parts of the upper Kenai Peninsula may warm up even more, reaching into the 40′s in Portage by Sunday.
The thaw expected to extend north into the Interior, with temperatures in Fairbanks possibly reaching into the double digits on Monday — a 50 degree difference from Saturday morning, when the mercury hovered at minus 44 for several hours.
Markle said these temperature fluctuations aren’t unusual for the region. It’s normal for winter weather patterns to cycle between, on one hand, the high pressure systems that bring arctic air and colder temperatures down from the Interior, and on the other, the low pressure systems that bring warmer air from the Aleutian Island chain, he said.
It’s difficult to predict whether temperatures will continue to fluctuate or whether they’ll flatten out in weeks to come, Markle said, but for the time being, Southcentral Alaskans can expect relative warmth.
Forecasters also predict can blustery conditions this weekend, with wind gusts reaching up to 25 mph on Sunday in Anchorage and 40 mph in Palmer. A chance of snow showers will persist through Friday, forecasters say.