The Great One

October landscape - Denali National Park. Photo courtesy of Brent Rodenberger, Fairbanks

It doesn't take long from the time when Fairbanks sees its first snowfall to when it's time to start plugging in the car — less than 48 hours in this case.

Fairbanks received its first official snowfall of the season on Wednesday, the third latest "first snow" in the past 117 years, according to climatologist Rick Thoman.

About an inch was recorded in some areas, but much of Fairbanks saw only flurries with little to no accumulation, according to the National Weather Service.

However, the clouds are expected to clear overnight, with lows dropping to near zero Friday morning. The cold won't last long, but it's a good reminder to figure out where you stashed that extension cord last spring.

It may be just the beginning of a frigid Fairbanks winter. A La Niña — a cool trend in tropical Pacific waters — formed in August and is expected to last several months. La Niña winters in Alaska tend to mean colder-than-normal temperatures.

There have been 14 La Niña winters recorded since 1925, according to climatologist Brian Brettschneider. In the Interior, La Niña winters have generally been anywhere from 2 to 12 degrees colder than normal, although a couple did trend warmer than normal.

In the short term, Fairbanks temperatures are expected to moderate this weekend, with highs in the mid- to upper-20s and lows in the teens under sunny skies.

Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.