Has Winter Returned..?

After a record-setting January for Alaska in general and Talkeetna in particular regarding warm temperatures and a lack of precipitation it appears that maybe – just ‘maybe’ – winter might once more be visiting ‘The Last Frontier’.  The previous two days have seen close to seasonal temps with highs in the middle to upper twenties and lows in the low single digits.  Along with these cooler temps have come clear skies which were some of the first since early January.  As such I thought it might be interesting to take a walk down to Question Lake which is maybe 100 yards to the south; while I have no direct access I did use the unplowed driveway of a ‘snow-bird’ neighbor.  The remaining snow is so compacted thanks to the earlier rain and above freezing temps followed by the very recent cold temps that even at my very robust weight I could walk atop it.  Here’s a couple of views:

 

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The first image is a SW view across the lake looking at the late January sunset while the second view is from the driveway looking to the SSE.  Perhaps five days earlier there was a definite appearance of sagging ice in the center of Question Lake and even some open water at points along the northern shore line.  Both observations are totally unheard of for January in south central Alaska but then this has hardly been a ‘typical’ January.  From my weather station come the following astonishing figures:

  • the mean temp for all of January was 25.8 F (-3.4 C); as a point of comparison December and January are typically the two coldest months in Talkeetna and December’s mean temp was 9.1 F (-12.7 C)!!
  • the high temp in January was 37.7 F (3.2 C) while it was 32.8 F (0.4 C) in December
  • the low temp in January was just +0.6 F (-17.4 C) while it was -24.2 F (-31.2 C) in December

Although I haven’t seen the ‘official’ figures for January 2014 I can guarantee that it’ll be the warmest January on record for the Talkeetna area (Upper Susitna Valley) and virtually guarantee it’ll be one of the warmest, if not the warmest, January for all of Alaska.  This trend continued the extremely warm weather that embraced Alaska throughout most of 2013 and now appears to be continuing into early 2014.  I know of no one in this area who likes this warmth; indeed, one reason folks live here is to enjoy the cold, snowy winters.  The winter of 2013-2014 is already assured a place in Alaskan lore.  I know I, along with a myriad of other Alaskan residents, certainly hope this warm trend breaks down and does so soon such that we might be able to enjoy a bit more winter.

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