Major Snowstorm Moving into Alaska
A major snowstorm is slamming interior Alaska – and it’s not as common as you might think.
Fairbanks, Alaska – population 32,000 – is bracing for 6-12″ of snow that will move in overnight Monday and into Tuesday before tapering off early on Wednesday morning. Higher elevations near the city could see more than a foot once the storm winds down on Wednesday.
If you think snowstorms are all that common in our bitterly cold 49th state, think again. Fairbanks averages about 65 inches of snow a year – a little over five feet – about half of Syracuse, New York’s 117 inch annual average and comparable to Cleveland, Ohio’s 60 inches of average annual snowfall. Cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, making it harder to generate big snowstorms, and Fairbanks’ 27.5º average annual temperature would certainly qualify as cold.
Anchorage (about 75 inches and along the coast) sees more snow in an average winter than Fairbanks, and the Alaskan capital of Juneau, located on the state’s snake-shaped panhandle, averages 70 inches annually. Both Anchorage and Juneau received significant snowfalls – also their first – over the weekend.
Despite the moderate annual snowfall totals, Alaska basked in considerably warmer-than-average temperatures during the month of November, with no snowfall recorded in Fairbanks, Anchorage or Juneau during the first three weeks of the month – highly unusual, according to Ned Rozell of the Alaska Science Forum.
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi