This winter is expected to be colder than average in Interior Alaska, according to a prediction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its 2021-2022 Winter Outlook on Thursday morning, which forecasts a La Niña year.
The outlook includes temperature and precipitation predictions for December 2021 through February 2022. The winter of 2021-2022 is projected to be a “canonical” La Niña year, said Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist with NOAA. In fact, the forecast for the upcoming winter is nearly identical to last year, which was also a La Niña year.
Brettschneider emphasized that La Niña is a “useful guide” but not deterministic because there are other factors that go into the weather. However, La Niña years are typically colder than average temperatures for the majority of Alaska, including the Interior. This winter, the bottom two-thirds of Alaska are projected to be colder than normal.
La Niña years are also generally drier in Alaska. While some parts of the state, such as Southcentral, are expected to have lower precipitation levels, precipitation is projected to be average in Interior Alaska. The Far Western Interior and Western Alaska, on the other hand, is expected to see more precipitation.
As to what the snow will be like this winter, Brettschneider said it is too early to say. Precipitation is always harder to predict than temperature, he explained, simply because there are fewer days with precipitation. However, Brettschneider did say that colder temperatures mean a lower chance of rain events during the winter.
NOAA updates its three-month Winter Outlook monthly; the next update will be on Nov. 19.