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Forecast: Near-normal Temps, Precip Likely Statewide, Warmer in Western Alaska

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service says the cold that’s gripped the Interior for the past few weeks will finally give way this week to milder temperatures. The weather service’s long-term forecast calls for normal temperatures and precipitation through the rest of the winter – except, possibly, in western Alaska.

Rick Thoman is the weather service’s climate science and services manager for Fairbanks, and he says the agency’s computer models suggest near-normal seasonal conditions around the Interior for the next three months.

“We almost run out of any model support now for much cold,” he said Friday during his monthly climate forecast briefing. Thoman says some of the models that accurately predicted the heavy snowfall of the past couple of weeks are now showing slim chances for more precipitation in the Interior. Which he says is not unusual for this time of year.

“The forecast made in November and December did have something of a wet tilt over parts of Alaska, especially in the west and central portions of the state,” he said, “But that’s almost all gone now.”

Thoman says the models show the possibility of slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures in the central Interior, extending from the North Slope to Southcentral.

Credit National Weather Service
Thoman's long-term Alaska forecast, for February through April, shows a fair chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures in western Alaska persisting into the spring.

He says the models suggest somewhat better odds of western Alaska having warmer-than-normal temperatures through April. But like any forecast, that’s based on probability, not certainty.

“We still don’t reach 50 percent everywhere,” he said, “so if you want to (ask), ‘Well, is it going to be significantly above normal?’ Well, this is an unbiased forecast; there’s a 55 percent chance, roughly, that it won’t be.”

Thoman bases his forecast for warmer weather out west in part on sensors that continue to show warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, and sparse sea ice.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.