Chances of a “normal” snow year not looking good for Anchorage

Published: Nov. 25, 2018 at 3:39 PM AKST
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Anchorage has seen only 2.3 inches of snow for the season through Nov. 24.

Based on the early low snow totals and the expected El Nino this winter, Climate Specialist Rick Thoman tweets that the chance of Anchorage reaching a “normal” snow total for the season is about 11 percent. Thoman looked at snow totals during previous El Nino winters.

A normal snow year would mean Anchorage would receive 74.5 inches of snow. Thoman says Anchorage has an 88 percent chance of seeing 30 inches or more of snow this winter and a 53 percent chance of 50 or more inches.

Fairbanks is in a little better situation. As of Nov. 23, the city has received 9 inches of snow and has a 21 percent chance of seeing a normal snow fall season.

Typically, by Nov. 24, Anchorage has seen 18.2 inches of snow. Snow totals so far for the 2018-2019 season are 15.9 inches below normal.

The Climate Prediction Center says there is an 80 percent chance a weak El Nino will form between December 2018 and February 2019.

When an El Nino pattern occurs, winters in Alaska, particularly southern Alaska, tends to be warmer than normal. The three-month outlook from the CPC for Dec.-Feb shows the entire state of Alaska is forecast to be warmer than normal. The southern half of the state has a slightly better than average chance of seeing more rain and snow.

El Nino is created when there are warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. For it to be considered an El Nino, the sea surface temperatures have to rise above .5 degrees Celsius or about .9 degrees Fahrenheit.