Friday, January 16, 2009

The COLD has snapped...

Fairbanks is shrouded in a dense layer of ice fog during a bitter cold snap

Alaska is widely known as an icy mass of land positioned near the top of the globe. This is probably the general consensus among most people. The past few weeks have only reinforced this reputation. A bitter cold air mass which has been entrenched across this northern landscape rapidly departed to more southerly latitudes today. Temperatures around Fairbanks hovered between -30F(-34C) and -60F(-51C) for nearly two weeks. This was one of the longest cold stretches in the past few decades.

The icy grip was rapidly replaced by tropical air from the south. An unprecedented heat wave has shot temperatures up well above the freezing mark. Some locations experienced a rise of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of days. All-time record high January temperatures were broken at many locations. This is truly a land of extremes.

Here is a graph showing the daily high (red) and low temperatures (blue) from late December to mid-January from a weather station near Fairbanks. The graph indicates that the temperature failed to get warmer than -40F (-40C) for about 10 days. There were also a few days when the mercury did not get warmer than -50F (-45C).

I have some more ice fog pictures from a previous post here: urban contrails

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