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Warmer temperatures, snow in forecast for Interior Alaska

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 1:15 pm

FAIRBANKS — The season’s first cold snap is expected to come to a dramatic end Sunday when the temperature could climb above zero at the airport for the first time in almost a month.

Even better, the National Weather Service said Fairbanks should see its first significant snowfall in a month.

“It’s going to be pretty chilly again Saturday; the real regime change begins on Sunday,” said meteorologist Dan Hancock with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. “There will be some cloud cover coming in Saturday night, which should moderate things.”

The weather service is calling for high temperatures between 5 degrees above zero and 5 degrees below zero on Sunday, with lows around 15 below. If that happens, it would mark the first time in 15 days — counting today — that the temperature at Fairbanks International Airport has climbed above 10 below.

The warmer temperatures, which should persist through next week, are expected to be accompanied by snow, too, something that has been in short supply this winter in Alaska’s second-largest city.

The one-tenth of an inch of snow that fell at the airport Wednesday ended a streak of 24 consecutive days without measurable snow in Fairbanks. For the season, only 11.5 inches of snow have fallen at the airport, which is 16.5 inches below normal.

“We expect periods of snow for next week starting Sunday,” Hancock said.

“We’re going to be getting multiple shots of the stuff. We could have some significant accumulation by the end of the week”

Just how much that is, however, remains to be seen.

While the season’s first cold snap hasn’t been severe — the temperature hit 40 below once and no records were set — it has been respectable, Hancock said.

Counting today, the temperature at the airport has dropped to at least 20 below for 15 straight days, with a low of 40 below Monday. That was the same day the high hit only 30 below. There were seven straight days from Nov. 28 to Tuesday when the high temperature at the airport didn’t hit 20 below.

The cold snap, which began Nov. 24, helped solidify November 2012 as the sixth-coldest November on record in Fairbanks since 1904. The average temperature in November of minus 8.8 was 11.4 degrees below normal.

December has started out colder, with an average temperature of 29 below through the first six days, which is 27 degrees below normal.

Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

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