ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s early fall has been unusually warm as a massive high-pressure system camped out around the state.
The warmer weather has allowed lawns to stay green in Anchorage and for farmers to continue harvesting crops in Palmer during a month when the state typically begins to freeze, the Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.
The lack of typical snow and subfreezing temperatures is unsettling to some. The village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island had no ice, weeks into October.
“It’s not freezing up,” said Delbert Pungowiyi, Savoonga tribal president. “Normally, we’d be able to cross the rivers and lakes.”
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Climatologist Rick Thoman said most of the state is “running way above normal” this month. Sea-surface temperatures in Chukchi and Bering seas are also “exceptionally warm,” he said.
Utqiagvik was 9 degrees above normal for the first half of the month, and Nome was 13 degrees above normal. Anchorage is setting record high temperatures and has passed the previous record for latest freeze of the year.
The Fairbanks area had less than an inch of snow last week, marking the latest snowfall on record, according to the National Weather Service. Fairbanks usually gets about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow in October.
The record-breaking warmth is part of a longer trend that started five years ago, Thoman said.
“Not every month, but the vast majority since June 2013 have been warm,” Thoman said.
Carl Benson, a professor emeritus in geology and geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has noticed the change over time. Since he began teaching in Fairbanks in 1960, his scheduled has altered because of the later snowfall.
“In the past we used to have a pretty good snow cover by now,” Benson said. “We had research projects that certainly would be started by October.”
The current Alaska weather isn’t just a warm day or a warm month, he said, it’s indicative of something else.
“When you piece all these together, things have changed,” Benson said.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com