Alaska is set to see relatively limited effects in the coming days from this season's El Niño weather pattern, while a series of eastbound Pacific Ocean storms approach California.
Luis Ingram, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Anchorage office, said Tuesday morning that low-pressure systems over the Pacific have been diverted toward Alaska by conditions above the western Lower 48.
"We've been stuck in this pattern where we've been having this high pressure over the U.S.," Ingram said. "It's creating this south-to-north jet that's just propelling these lows into our area, one after the other."
El Niños are driven by an ocean temperature pattern in the equatorial Pacific known as the southern oscillation. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, El Niños are irregularly timed events that can occur every two to seven years.
Ingram said the effects of El Niño in Alaska this week have been "rather benign." He said there weren't any Alaska weather issues directly related to the California-bound storms, although a storm was headed for the Aleutian Islands Tuesday.
"The only thing that we have should be a high wind watch for the Aleutians," Ingram said. "We do have another low that will be coming into the central Aleutians early Wednesday."
The eastbound storms have raised concerns among authorities across southern California, with the Los Angeles Times reporting warnings against traveling along rivers, drainage ditches or recreational trails as the storms affect the region through Thursday.
According to the Aleutians wind watch, in effect for the Dutch Harbor area from Wednesday morning through Wednesday night, winds could reach speeds from 45 to 60 mph, with gusts to 80 mph. At sea, storm warnings south of the Aleutians called for winds of up to 35 knots and seas from 7 to 17 feet.
Ingram said that the Aleutians storm is expected to cross the island chain, then head northwest toward Russia.
"This one looks to stay well out to sea," Ingram said.
Correction: An initial version of this story incorrectly quoted meteorologist Luis Ingram as saying El Niño's effects in Alaska were "rather benign" this winter, rather than this week.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing