Alaska News

Anchorage snowfall so far this winter is 2nd-lowest on record

As of Monday, Anchorage was experiencing the second lowest snowfall total on record for a winter season, the National Weather Service said, with only 19.4 inches of snow.

NWS forecaster Christian Cassell said part of the reason Anchorage has seen such low snowfall accumulation is because of the "unusually" high amounts of rain, which are a result of high sea surface temperatures in the Bering Sea and the northeast Pacific Ocean.

"In some areas sea surface temperatures are the highest we've seen since we started keeping records," Cassell said.

Cassell added that when sea temperatures are higher, overall temperatures in Alaska are also higher about 80 percent of the time. And so far this winter season, "Alaska is in that 80 percent," he said.

High sea temperatures also cause high pressure systems, which can keep Alaska from getting the brunt of snow-bearing storms, Cassell said.

The only winter season in which Anchorage had recorded less snow by Feb. 9 was the winter of 1985-86, when only 14.7 inches fell by that day, according to NWS data.

The weather service said the winter with the lowest recorded snow accumulation for the entire season was that of 1957-58, when only 30.4 inches of snow was measured.

There is no "slam dunk chance of measurable accumulation" snow for Anchorage going into the weekend, Cassell said. But as spring approaches, he said, Anchorage could get caught in a snowstorm.

"A lot of time we get high pressure building on the West Coast of North America and in the spring months it will move north," Cassell said. "It will kind of block the normal weather pattern and when that happens, we do tend to see a major snowstorm."

But if that system doesn't move, Cassell said, Anchorage will only become drier as spring nears.

Megan Edge

Megan Edge is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.