Everyone slipping, sliding and falling around Anchorage thanks to the rain-plagued winter of 2015-16 might have noticed something isn’t quite normal.
But don’t worry. This is simply what the National Weather Service calls an “anomaly.”
Consider yourself anomalated.
The whole globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, fell victim to a January nearly two degrees (1.04 C) warmer than the 20th Century average for the month, and a “much warmer than average” Alaska was one of the areas pushing the bubble upward.
“The January 2016 Anomaly” topped a record set in 2007 and marched right into a much warmer than average February, the agency noted. Through the 16th of this month, the Alaska communities of Eagle, Northway, McGrath, Bethel, King Salmon and not-so-cold Cold Bay are all on pace for winter “record warm” and every other community from Ketchikan north, including Anchorage, is on “near record warm” pace.
Snow fall, or the lack thereof, is also setting records. After a promising November, when it looked like Alaska might see a real winter after the near no-show last year, Anchorage has seen only 18 percent of normal snowfall and Fairbanks but 9 percent.
Juneau hasn’t seen snow since Dec. 29, setting a record for the longest stretch of winter without measurable snow in the state capital.
And there’s no sign this is going to get any better — or worse, depending on your personal view of winter. March, April and May are all forecast as warmer and wetter than normal in Alaska. It’s possible this could mean more snow, but it’s appears more likely — if January and February in Anchorage are any precedent — that it will mean more rain.
As the situation stands now, about all anyone can really hope for is enough rain to wash away the ice that still coats sidewalks, side streets and lawns in some parts of the city. The normally grassy or snow-covered Park Strip downtown now requires great care or crampons to cross.
NOAA has a great powerpoint here for those who want more: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/briefings/201602.pdf